The History and Authors of Reproductive Health Bill
The Reproductive Health bills, popularly known as the RH Bill, are Philippine bills aiming to guarantee universal access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care. The bills have become the center of a contentious national debate. There are presently two bills with the same goals: House Bill No. 4244 or An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and For Other Purposes introduced by Albay 1st district Representative Edcel Lagman, and Senate Bill No. 2378 or An Act Providing For a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
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.
The bill is highly divisive, with experts, academics, religious institutions, and major political figures supporting and opposing it, often criticizing the government and each other in the process. The issue is so divisive that at one point, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines threatened to excommunicate the President, Benigno Aquino III if he supported the bill. Debates and rallies for and against the bill, with tens of thousand participating, have been happening all over the country.
The first time the Reproductive Health Bill was proposed was in 1998. During the present 15th Congress, the RH Bills filed are those authored by (1) House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman of Albay, HB 96; (2) Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, HB 101, (3) Akbayan Representatives Kaka Bag-ao & Walden Bello; HB 513, (4) Muntinlupa Representative