The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354), informally known as the Reproductive Health Law, is a law in the Philippines which guarantees universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care. While there is general agreement about its provisions on maternal and child health, there is great debate on its key proposal that the Philippine government and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms, birth control pills (BCPs) and IUDs, as the government continues to disseminate information on their use through all health care centers. On October 2012, a revised version of the legislation was renamed the Responsible Parenthood Act and was filed in the House of Representatives as a result of re-introducing the bill under a different impression after overwhelming opposition in the country, especially from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. The law is highly divisive and controversial, with experts, academics, religious institutions, and major political figures supporting and opposing it, often criticizing the government and each other in the process. Debates and rallies proposing and opposing the bills, with tens of thousands of opposition particularly those endorsed by the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and various other conservative groups, have been happening nationwide. -------------------------------------------------
CONGRESS PASSES RH BILL
Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano embraced each other as they stood in the middle of the session hall, while Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada announced Monday night the 13-8 vote approving the reproductive health (RH) bill. It was a long-delayed triumph for both women who gained enemies for their defense of what they believed was a measure that would give a woman the choice to determine the number of her children, meet a teener’s need to be protected from an unplanned pregnancy and educate citizens about sexual health. “There is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come and that idea today is the RH bill,” Santiago said. Before the voting, the bill had languished in Congress for 13 years. A quarter before 8 last night, senators approved Senate Bill No. 2865 on third and final reading, less than an hour after they did the same on second reading. The vote in the Senate paves the way for the measure to become law after the House of Representatives also approved on third reading last night the bill that President Aquino had certified as urgent. ‘No miracle’
The “miracle” that anti-RH groups were waiting for did not materialize, as the House voted 133-79-7 to pass House Bill No. 4244 on final reading, increasing the winning margin to 54. In the second reading on Thursday, the chamber voted 113-104-3. The two chambers will have to reconcile their versions of the bill in a bicameral conference committee so Mr. Aquino can sign the measure into law. Senate leaders have yet to name their representatives to the bicameral conference that Santiago wants to convene Tuesday. Malacañang hailed both houses of Congress for their “historic vote” and crafting a law “that can truly address the needs of our people.” “The people now have the government on their side as they raise their families in a manner that is just and empowered,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said. “It begins a process of healing for the wounds that may have been opened by an often feisty democracy.” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, sponsor of the House bill, was optimistic that the bicameral committee would face no serious roadblock in reconciling contrasting provisions with the Senate version. He said the committee could meet Tuesday and have the final version ready for ratification by Wednesday. “Before the end of the year, it will become a law as long as we can harmonize the...