European Union backs Reproductive Health bill, warns vs rapid population growth
By Jose Rodel Clapano Updated March 04, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) has expressed its full support for the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
In a speech delivered at a recent forum on Reproductive Health, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the Delegation of the European Commission in the Philippines, said the RH bill will enhance the anti-poverty and pro-development policy framework in the country.
MacDonald reiterated EU’s statement during last year’s Philippine Development Forum that the “continued rapid population growth in the Philippines is draining health and economic resources and slowing down economic growth.”
He said rapid population growth in the country also “threatens the sustainability of rural livelihoods and is inexorably destroying the remaining natural forest and marine habitats.”
The EU also stated “the poor are paying the highest price, both individually and collectively.”
“The European Union therefore calls for the effective implementation of a comprehensive national family planning policy, promoting access to family planning methods,” the EU further said.
MacDonald lauded Congress for preparing legislation that would enhance anti-poverty and pro-development efforts.
“In conclusion, therefore, I would like to put on record that I applaud the effort of legislators in the House and the Senate to prepare legislation intended to enhance the anti-poverty and pro-development policy framework in the Philippines, through a modern legal framework for Reproductive Health, and I wish you every success in your endeavors,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said the European Commission has been, for many years, supportive of the fight against poverty in the country.
MacDonald pointed out that the EC’s current program in the country is largely concentrated on the health sector.
MacDonald cited a few “striking examples“ of grim statistics to present the social, developmental and personal consequences of the absence of an effective framework for reproductive health in the Philippines.
“It seems to me extremely unlikely that the Philippines will be able to meet its commitment under the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) under the present policy,” he added.
He pointed out that latest estimates suggest that of a total of 3.6 million pregnancies in the Philippines in 2007, just over half (1.9 million) were “unplanned” – and one quarter of these (500,000) ended in abortions.
MacDonald said that in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, abortion was considered to be a cheap form of contraception.
“Yet here in the Philippines in the 21st century, these high (if often invisible) rates of abortion are a direct and ineluctable consequence of the unavailability of modern methods of contraception.”
Does this mean that those who argue against the Reproductive Health bill are arguing in favor of abortion? Of course not, of course this is not their intention, and nothing could be further from their minds. – With Pia Lee-Brago