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Posts Tagged ‘House Bill 4244 Consolidated Reproductive Health Bill’

based on serious evidence, the RH Bill is pro-poor and authentically pro-life & pro-family – UP Economics Professors

July 30, 2012 1 comment

Population, poverty, politics and RH bill

 By: 

10:03 pm | Saturday, July 28th, 2012

The population issue has long been dead and buried in developed and most developing countries, including historically Catholic countries.

That it continues to be debated heatedly in our country merely testifies to the lack of progress in policy and action. The Catholic Church hierarchy has maintained its traditional stance against modern family planning (FP) methods, particularly modern (also referred to as “artificial”) contraceptives.

On the other hand, the State acknowledges the difficulties posed for development by rapid population growth, especially among the poorest Filipinos. But it has been immobilized from effectively addressing the issue by the Catholic hierarchy’s hard-line position, as well as the tendency of some politicians to cater to the demands of well-organized and impassioned single-issue groups for the sake of expediency.

Caught between a hard Church and a soft State are the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who affirm the importance of helping women and couples control the size of their families and the responsibility of the government to provide budgetary support for modern FP services.

Renewed impetus to the debate has been given by the public and political interest in the decade-and-a-half old bill on “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development” (RH bill, for short). Unfortunately, serious discussion has been hampered by the lack of reliable information and the proclivity of some parties in the debate to use epithets that label the bill as “proabortion,” “antilife” and “immoral.”

There were a few aspects of the bill to which some groups have expressed objections, which the latest version has already addressed. In any case, the main thrust of the bill—“enabl(ing) couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to carry out their decisions”—is something we strongly and unequivocally support. In what follows, we explain why.

Real score

The experience from across Asia indicates that population policy cum government-funded FP program has been a critical complement to sound economic policy and poverty reduction. Moreover, the weaker the state’s ability to tax and mobilize resources (including spending on the right priorities) is, the greater the negative impact on economic development of a rapidly growing population, which in every developing country is largely accounted for by the least educated and poorest segments of the population.

Owing to the lack of a clear population policy (RH/FP programs) besides just modest economic growth since the 1970s, our country sadly has fallen well behind its original Asean neighbors (Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia) in terms of both demographic and economic indicators. (See Table 1.)

Sadder still is the prospect that unless the RH (or responsible parenthood) bill is passed in Congress and swiftly implemented, our country will likely be overtaken even by its latecomer Asean neighbors (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) in a few years time.

At the micro level, large family size is closely associated with poverty incidence, as consistently borne out by household survey data over time. In short, poor families are heavily burdened when they end up with more children than they want.

Official data from the Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES) since 1985 have unambiguously shown that poverty incidence is lower for families with fewer children but rises consistently with the number of children. (See Table 2.) Among families with one child only 2.9 percent are poor compared with households having nine or more children where 46.4 percent are destitute (FIES 2009).

Moreover, larger families make smaller investment in human capital per child—investment that is crucial to breaking the vicious chain of intergenerational poverty. Average annual spending on education per student falls from P8,212 for a one-child family to P2,474 for a family with nine or more children, and average health spending per capita drops correspondingly from P3,389 to P582 (FIES 2006 and Labor Force Survey 2007).

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congressmen who will vote for the rh bill in congress will get votes from the electorate

July 30, 2012 Leave a comment

these numbers are impressive – a high 71% of all catholics and a high of 68% of non-catholics are “in favor” of the rh bill. these people see that there is a need for the rh bill. congressmen who will vote for the rh bill in congress will be seen by the electorate as  not only listening to the people but also  providing for the needs of the people.

there is no ambivalence or doubt in the minds of the people – based on their own experience, they know how the rh bill can help them in their daily lives. unplanned pregnancy to them will disrupt their plans and ambitions for themselves and most specially for their family. they know that it is hard enough for them to get by with their meager income, having an unplanned pregnancy will make it even more difficult if not impossible.

these are catholics and they do know what the stand of the catholic church is on the rh bill. the 71% who agree with the rh bill are doing so with full knowledge that they are going against the wishes of the church. they see more urgency for the rh bill than what their priests are telling them.

voting for the rh bill in congress will earn the congressmen favor and in fact will get them elected in the upcoming elections.

ADB : Poverty In the Philippines – causes, constraints & opportunities

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

click to read pdf file  —>  Poverty-Philippines-Causes-Constraints-Opportunities

source : ADB website : http://bit.ly/ulR9RP

how anti RHBill proponents fail to reproduce logic, the senator miriam speech

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL: LOGIC 101

(Speech at the inter-university forum on 15 September 2011 sponsored by the UP Law Center Human Rights Institute at the UP College of Law Malcolm Theatre)

Reproductive Rights as Part of Human Rights

Our topic is the nature of reproductive rights as part of the greater sum of human rights.  In legal terms, human rights form the totality of the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values – specially at an international level – all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live.

In international law, the basic document is the non-binding but authoritative Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accompanied by the binding documents known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

In national or domestic law, the basic document is the Philippine Constitution, particularly Article 2 on Declaration of State Policies, and Article 3 on the Bill of Rights.  Our Constitution, Art. 2 Sec. 15 specifically provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”  This right to health is now viewed as including the right to reproductive health.

Reproductive rights constitute the totality of a person’s constitutionally protected rights relating to the control of his or her procreative activities.  Specifically, reproductive rights refer to the cluster of civil liberties relating to pregnancy, abortion, and sterilization, specially the personal bodily rights of a woman in her decision whether to become pregnant or bear a child.

The phrase “reproductive rights” includes the idea of being able to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.  Human-rights scholars increasingly consider many reproductive rights to be protected by international human rights law.

When we speak of Philippine internal laws and politics, we are speaking of the so-called “horizontal” strand of the human rights movement.  But as constitutionalism spreads among states, we now speak of the so-called “vertical strand” of the new international law, that is meant to bind states and that is implemented by the new international institutions.  Filipino politicians seem to be aware only of the horizontal but not of the vertical dimension of the human rights movement.1

But the truly novel developments of the last half century have involved primarily the vertical dimension.  Thus, contrary to the misimpression of many of our politicians, the national debate on reproductive health is not only limited to the Constitution, but necessarily include Philippine obligations under the legally binding obligations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as other treaties to which the Philippines is a state party.

The urgency of enforcing reproductive rights in our country was raised at the 1993 Vienna World Conference, when the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights2 drew attention to:

The shocking reality . . . that States and the international community as a whole continue to tolerate all too often breaches of economic social and cultural rights which . . . would provoke horror and outrage and would lead to concerted calls for immediate remedial action.

In the human rights movement, the mechanisms and processes for the delivery of health services are themselves morally compelling.  Evaluation of health programs emphasizes distribution in outcomes, not only averages.  We are concerned about the entire distribution, because reproductive rights theories take seriously the idea that every human being is worthy of respect.

Advocates of human rights pay particular attention to disaggregated data among women and the poor, because they are particularly liable to practices and prejudices that weaken their agency and the social basis of their self-esteem.  Finally, reproductive rights approaches accommodate adoptive preferences.  Many poor women do not receive information on how to receive reproductive health care.  In addition, our underprivileged women have to accept standards lower than what they need, want, or deserve.

This is the reason why we hold forums like these – to raise consciousness, provide political education, and take measures in civil society to expand the imagination and the demands of the excluded group of women who belong to the poorest of the poor.3

Why the RH Bill is Controversial

The two most controversial provisions of the RH bill are:

Sec. 7.  Access to Family Planning. – All accredited public and private health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on an optional basis.  No person shall be denied information and access to family planning services.

Sec. 8.  Maternal Death Review.

Sec. 9.  Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines. – The National Drug Formulary shall include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal and effective family planning products and supplies in accordance (with FDA guidelines).  These products and supplies shall also be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals, provincial, city, and municipal health offices, including rural health units.

Miriam on RH symposiumPhoto by archiegonzalez.lens.ph

In brief, the RH bill merely wants to empower a woman from the poorest economic class to march to the nearest facility operated by the Department of Health or the local government unit, to demand information on a family planning product or supply of her choice.  The bill, at the simplest level, wants to give an indigent married woman the freedom of informed choice concerning her reproductive rights.

If the bill is highly controversial, it is not because it is dangerous to humans or to the planet.  It is not subversive of the political order.  It is not a fascist diktat of a totalitarian power structure.  The reason this bill is emotionally charged is because of the fervent opposition of the Catholic church in the Philippines and those who wish to be perceived as its champions.

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Fr. Joaquin Bernas on #rhbill : serves the welfare of the nation and especially of poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service

May 24, 2011 42 comments

My stand on the RH Bill

By: 

I HAVE been following the debates on the RH Bill not just in the recent House sessions but practically since its start. In the process, because of what I have said and written (where I have not joined the attack dogs against the RH Bill), I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, I am considered a heretic in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane), and one of those who regularly hears my Mass in the Ateneo Chapel in Rockwell came to me disturbed by my position. I feel therefore that I owe some explanation to those who listen to me or read my writings.

First, let me start by saying that I adhere to the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception even if I am aware that the teaching on the subject is not considered infallible doctrine by those who know more theology than I do. Moreover, I am still considered a Catholic and Jesuit in good standing by my superiors, critics notwithstanding!

Second (very important for me as a student of the Constitution and of church-state relations), I am very much aware of the fact that we live in a pluralist society where various religious groups have differing beliefs about the morality of artificial contraception. But freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. Hence, the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief. As the “Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church” says, “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”

Third, I am dismayed by preachers telling parishioners that support for the RH Bill ipso facto is a serious sin or merits excommunication! I find this to be irresponsible.

Fourth, I have never held that the RH Bill is perfect. But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can. Because of this, I and a number of my colleagues have offered ways of improving it and specifying areas that can be the subject of intelligent discussion. (Yes, there are intelligent people in our country.) For that purpose we jointly prepared and I published in my column what we called “talking points” on the bill.

Fifth, specifically I advocate removal of the provision on mandatory sexual education in public schools without the consent of parents. (I assume that those who send their children to Catholic schools accept the program of Catholic schools on the subject.) My reason for requiring the consent of parents is, among others, the constitutional provision which recognizes the sanctity of the human family and “the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character.” (Article II, Section 12)

Sixth, I am pleased that the bill reiterates the prohibition of abortion as an assault against the right to life. Abortifacient pills and devices, if there are any in the market, should be banned by the Food and Drug Administration. But whether or not there are such is a question of scientific fact of which I am no judge.

Seventh, I hold that there already is abortion any time a fertilized ovum is expelled. The Constitution commands that the life of the unborn be protected “from conception.” For me this means that sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation.

Eighth, it has already been pointed out that the obligation of employers with regard to the sexual and reproductive health of employees is already dealt with in the Labor Code. If the provision needs improvement or nuancing, let it be done through an examination of the Labor Code provision.

Ninth, there are many valuable points in the bill’s Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles which can serve the welfare of the nation and especially of poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service. There are specific provisions which give substance to these good points. They should be saved.

Tenth, I hold that public money may be spent for the promotion of reproductive health in ways that do not violate the Constitution. Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution.

Eleventh, I leave the debate on population control to sociologists.

Finally, I am happy that the CBCP has disowned the self-destructive views of some clerics.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/5340/my-stand-on-the-rh-bill

mother of all polls on RH Bill – join the poll, let your voice be heard

May 18, 2011 15 comments

amendments to House Bill 4244 – consolidated reproductive health bill

May 16, 2011 20 comments

15 March 2011

HON. ROGELIO J. ESPINA
Chairman
Committee on Population and Family Relations
House of Representatives
Constitution Hills, Quezon City

Dear Chairman Espina:

The principal authors of House Bill 4244, the consolidated substitute bill on “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011? met yesterday to formalize voluntary amendments to the bill in order to preclude misconceptions and protracted debates. The authors have also authorized me to inform you that the following amendments be adopted as Committee amendments at the proper time:

1. Section 13 on “Roles of Local Governments in Family Planning Programs” found on lines 9-14, page 12, of the bill, which reads: “The LGUs shall ensure that poor families receive preferential access to services, commodities and programs for family planning. The role of Population Officers at municipal, city and barangay levels in the family planning effort shall be strengthened. Barangay health workers and volunteers shall be capacitated to give priority to family planning work.”

should be amended by deleting the phrase “give priority to family planning work.” found in the last sentence of the Section, and should be substituted with the phrase “help implement this Act.” This would obviate complaints that family planning is given inordinate priority.

2. Section 15 on “Mobile Health Care Service” found on page 12, lines 20-25, and page 13, lines 1-6, reading “Each Congressional District may be provided with at least one (1) Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas. The MHCS shall deliver health care supplies and services to constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, and shall be used to disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The purchase of the MHCS may be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each congressional district. The operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by a focal city or municipality within a congressional district.”

should be amended to read as follows: “Each Congressional District may be provided with at least one (1) Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas, the procurement and operation of which shall be funded by the National Government. The MHCS shall deliver health care supplies and services to constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, and shall be used to disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. [The purchase of the MHCS may be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each congressional district.] The operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by a focal city or municipality within a congressional district.”

The reason for this amendment is to liberate the PDAF without prejudice to Members of the House who may still wish to use a portion of their PDAF for the purchase and operation of the MHCS.

3. Section 16 on “Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education” found on page 13 from lines 7-25, and page 14 from lines 1-13, which reads: “Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal education system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life skills and other approaches. The Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall commence at the start of the school year immediately following one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act to allow the training of concerned teachers. The Department of Education (DEPED), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), TESDA, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH) shall formulate the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education curriculum. Such curriculum shall be common to both public and private schools, out of school youth, and enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) based on, but. not limited to, the psychosocial and physical wellbeing, demography and reproductive health, and the legal aspects of reproductive health.

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