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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

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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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joint statement of ateneo and UP professors : Pass The RH Bill Now

March 25, 2011 4 comments

PASS THE RH BILL NOW
Statement of individual faculty
of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University
in support of HB 4244,“
An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood,
Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and for Other Purposes”
We, the undersigned faculty of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, in our individual capacities as educators and scholars from various academic disciplines,declare our strong support for the consolidated reproductive health bill (House Bill 4244) and urge its immediate passage in Congress. We issue this statement because we see the need for our active engagement in social issues, believing as we do that the academe has a distinct role to play in achieving social justice and national development.
We have read House Bill 4244 on “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development” currently filed in the House of Representatives and have kept abreast of the on going debates. Many of us have been working on reproductive health and its related issues, some of us for decades. We have undertaken our own studies (literature reviews and analysis, policy studies, empirical researches, etc.) on reproductive health. Many of us have also participated in legislative processes such as public hearings and technical working groups.
Our studied and collective opinion is that House Bill 4244 is a vital piece of legislation. Its passage will mandate policies which will save women’s and men’s lives, improve infant survival, enhance young people’s health and well-being, and enable couples and individuals to make responsible decisions in planning their families. We also endorse this bill as a necessary element to achieve the goals of social equity, poverty reduction, and national development. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that these goals can be achieved without resorting to population control. Our reading of HB 4244 is that it is not a population control bill, nor does it violate any other rights and freedoms. HB 4244 in fact promotes the sexual and reproductive rights, the right to health, and the right to informed decision making of all Filipinos but especially the poor, in fulfillment of the provisions of our Constitution and our obligations under international covenants. The passage of a national and comprehensive law will also guarantee budgetary support from the national government for reproductive health initiatives and ensure their implementation by local government units, regardless of the vagaries of national and local leadership.
We are issuing this statement because we wish to support those legislators who rely on scientific evidence when they craft legislative proposals or decide how to vote. Their endorsement of HB 4244 is an encouraging example of progressive legislation that is necessary to national development.
In this light, we feel the need to comment on the way science has been misused by those who oppose this bill. We have seen the misrepresentation of easily verifiable information, such as the actual text of the proposed bill. We have witnessed the misuse of outdated studies, data that have already been disproven, or studies that cannot be replicated to support what are merely ideological positions. One example that is particularly dangerous is the lie that condoms do not protect against sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. There have also been those who misrepresent extremist positions as the prevailing consensus of the scientific community. This evidence-based consensus, however, does support the provision of reproductive health services that include contraceptive access and sexuality education.It also supports the services for adolescents and children that HB 4244 mandates.

We are concerned over reports that teachers offer incentives, such as bonus points, for students to make anti-RH statements or engage in anti-RH activities. We welcome disparate opinions as necessary to the vitality of any scholarly community.

Thus, we believe that it is an abuse of our role as value formators to dictate the political actions of our students in this way. We denounce any such violations of our duties to inculcate critical thinking and respect our students’ right to their own opinions.We denounce this, regardless of whether the teacher is for or against the RH Bill.

We caution our people to be more critical of the data and opinions presented to them and find out the truth for themselves. We are heartened by polls that show that most Filipinos know of the bill and support it, and in so doing have shown their capacity for enlightened citizenship.

Together with the legislators who have proven themselves worthy of their mandate by their support for the bill, we reiterate our full and unequivocal endorsement of HB 4244 and call for its immediate enactment into law.

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