A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison Updated April 20, 2009 12:00 AM
The backers of the RH bill have again strutted out statistics from a policy research organization based in New York, U.S.A. The report allegedly covers a study on women’s contraceptive needs in the Philippines showing that 4,600 mothers and 52,000 babies died in the country last year from unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. Of the pregnancy related deaths, 2,600 were attributed to complications due to abortion. Guttemacher Institute which made the study claims these mothers and babies died because of lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health.
The Guttemacher statistics may be accurate but its claim as to the cause of these deaths is wrong. In the U.S.A. where Guttemacher is based, a proportionately much bigger number of mothers and babies die due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. Yet this is the very country where women even at their tender age are sexually well educated and afforded reproductive health rights and choices in methods of controlling births.
As the report says, mothers and babies die due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. U.S. statistics again show that ever since Americans started using all sorts of artificial contraceptives, unwanted pregnancies have tremendously increased. Obviously American women have developed a contraceptive mentality that often results in unwanted pregnancies since most of these contraceptives are not fail safe. And because of these unwanted pregnancies, women resort to abortion which America openly allows and supports. Hence more mothers and babies die there precisely because women are afforded alleged reproductive health rights and choices in the use of contraceptives.
Deaths due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes will not be prevented or minimized by the passage of the Reproductive Health and Population Management and Development Act (RH Bill). On the contrary, the death rate due to said causes will increase even more by the passage of said bill because it grants women a wide ranging choice of family planning methods that include these abortion causing or ineffectual artificial contraceptives. If the RH Bill is passed, there will be more unwanted pregnancies and hence more cases of abortion. This is not a mere hypothesis. This is happening in America, the home of Guttemacher Institute and most of the Pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing and selling those artificial contraceptives that cause abortion and other serious illnesses. So why should we believe this Guttemacher report?
There may be lack of access to information on reproductive health and family planning especially among impoverished women. But the RH Bill does not actually provide them with such information. The truth is that the Bill will even subsidize the purchase of these harmful artificial contraceptives without requiring the dissemination of the necessary warning to women that they may cause abortion and other serious illnesses or that they can not really prevent pregnancies.
Of course women are entitled to reproductive health rights. But like other rights, it should be exercised without injuring or affecting the very life of others as in abortion. They have rights to safeguard the health of their own bodies but these rights do not allow them to destroy the lives of innocent and helpless infants in their wombs by resorting to abortion after the unexpected pregnancies caused by the failure of contraceptives. Indeed the U.S. Supreme Court already accepted and recognized that whether contraceptives are abortifacients or not, the decision to use contraception is “in some critical respects” of the same character as abortion.
Under the RH Bill, artificial contraceptives are made available on demand at the expense of the government and for the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing them. But it has already been medically proven that these contraceptives are the causes of many diseases and infirmities rather than reproductive health. Dr. Carl Djerassi who developed the pill in 1960 himself found its “adverse effect on virtually every organ system of the human body, interfering as it does with the normal functioning of the woman’s vitally important reproductive system. Making these contraceptives available to our women would thus result in the eventual deaths of more mothers and babies or in more babies with congenital malformations and defects. The situation in America, the land of Guttemacher Institute and the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing these contraceptives will confirm this.
Thus the solution to this alarming growth in the deaths of mothers and babies is to junk the RH Bill. Instead another bill should be passed wherein the billions of pesos allocated for these contraceptives should be devoted to the improvement of the medical care services to poor, pregnant women and to the health care of babies. This is the real, honest to goodness reproductive health care that our country needs, not the reproductive health contemplated by the RH Bill where only the multinational pharmaceutical companies manufacturing and selling artificial contraceptives profit most at the expense of Filipino taxpayers.
Filipinos should not be deluded into believing this kind of deceptive propaganda being waged by foreign funded groups connected with an international population control movement aggressively pushing for artificial contraceptive methods that precisely cause abortion and expose Filipino women and babies to other serious health problems. To be sure, with Obama’s recent executive order allowing the use of American taxpayers’ money to support the promotion of this fake “reproductive health” in other countries like the Philippines, these groups will become more aggressive as they are now provided with more logistics.
Thus the clear picture in the public’s mind at this stage is that this RH Bill promoting harmful and dangerous contraceptives could be approved only if our legislators succumb to the pressure of these internationally backed groups and their filthy lucre.
Last Wednesday, at “Usapang PopDev” of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, SWS reported on its February 2009 survey in Parañaque City, showing public opinion on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill as very favorable. This means it is the same as the public opinion on the RH bill in the City of Manila and the Philippines as a whole, as polled in December 2008 and September 2008 respectively.
Among the items of the three surveys were probes into agreement, disagreement, or neutrality on the four key attitudinal statements found below. After each statement are the percentages that agreed versus disagreed; balances from 100 percent pertain to those who were neutral or who did not answer.
1. “The use of condoms, IUDs and pills can also be considered as abortion.” Parañaque: 33-53; Manila: 29-56; Philippines: 33-50.
Thus, at most, one-third of respondents classify condoms etc. as forms of abortion, as claimed by many in the Catholic hierarchy. Abortion is, of course, constitutionally illegal. The surveys make it clear that most Filipinos would not bother to dispute the legal status of these contraceptives on the basis of the abortion argument.
2. “There should be a law that requires the government to distribute condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail of them.” Parañaque: 70-19; Manila: 64-22; Philippines: 68-15.
This shows an overwhelming public rejection of the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to governmental provision of the above-mentioned contraceptives for those who want them. Of course, most people know what church officials are up to — 66 percent in Parañaque and 62 percent in Manila agree that “The church interferes in the affairs of the government, especially in the issues of reproductive health and family planning” — and yet they still maintain high trust in the Catholic church. Fortunately for the faith in the Philippines, there is much more to being a Catholic than following every wish of one’s bishop.
It may be noted that only 15 percent of Filipinos object to having a law requiring the government to distribute condoms etc. to those who want them, even though as many as 33 percent regard such contraceptives as abortion. This means that, even among those personally opposed to condoms etc., most are open-minded enough to let others have an effective freedom of choice.
3. “If family planning would be included in their curriculum, the youth would be sexually promiscuous.” Parañaque: 25-58; Manila: 29-59; Philippines: 25-54.
4. “There should be a law that requires the government to teach family planning to the youth.” Parañaque: 85-9; Manila: 88-7; Philippines: 76-10.
The above are consistent with agreements that “Students of age 15-24 should be given adolescent health education in school” of 87 percent in Parañaque and 92 percent in Manila. They are also consistent with percentages agreeing that “Men and women 15-24 years old should be given family planning information and services” of 86 in Parañaque and 89 in Manila.
Filipinos who know of the RH bill pending in Congress are almost half in the entire nation (46 percent), and exactly half in Parañaque (49 percent) and Manila (51 percent). The bill was described in the survey as “giving the government the duty to promote responsible parenthood through giving enough information to the people and having safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services for people who want it.”
The bottom lines of the three SWS surveys are the percentages in favor of, versus opposed to, the RH bill: Parañaque: 84-9; Manila: 86-8; Philippines: 71-8.
The basic reason why opinions are overwhelmingly in favor of the RH bill is the widespread recognition that the problem of overpopulation in the Philippines is critical. Here are percentages that agree with the following statements: “Population growth increases poverty incidence” — Parañaque 71, Manila 74; “Population growth worsens environmental degradation” — Parañaque 65, Manila 69; “Population growth slows down economic growth” — Parañaque 68, Manila 70; “There is a population growth problem in the Philippines” — Parañaque 64, Manila 69; “There is a population growth problem in our city” — Parañaque 60, Manila 69; “The government of our city should have a policy on reproductive health and family planning” — Parañaque 86, Manila 88; and “The government should provide free supplies or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method” — Parañaque 87, Manila 90.
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The first of the three surveys was done on Sept. 24-27, 2008, on a nationally-representative sample of 1,500 persons of age 18 and up (error margin of 2.5 percent). The second survey, on Dec. 27-29, 2008, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age (meaning, 15-54 years old for males and 15-49 years old for females) from the City of Manila. The third survey, on Feb. 14-17, 2009, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age in Parañaque City. The city-level error margin is 4 percent.
All samples were equally divided between males and females. The city-level samples were equally divided among congressional districts, so as to be of equal quality among them; the city-surveys found public opinion the same across districts.
Congresspersons who dispute the Social Weather Stations polls, but sincerely care about opinions in their own districts, should commission their own scientific polls at the local level. In the process, they may as well gather data on how their chances of being re-elected in 2010 might relate to their constituents’ opinions about the RH bill. How many can feel certain that, like their local bishop, they are so appreciated by the electorate that they can afford to openly oppose the RH bill?
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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
That was a most compelling photo on the front page of Monday’s Philippine Daily Inquirer. Hundreds of people seated on the grassy grounds of the Sunken Garden in University of the Philippines, Diliman, forming the words “No to BNPP,” their graphic way of declaring their objections to the re-opening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
The measure is currently being debated in the House appropriations committee, after it passed the committee on energy headed by Rep. Mikey Arroyo. Main sponsor Rep. Mark Cojuangco has argued that the only way to stop climate change and achieve energy security in this country is through nuclear power.
Speaking of the human graphic, which the group helped organize, the Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigns manager for the Philippines, Beau Baconguis, said it was “a statement of the people’s opposition to the revival of the BNPP. Congressman Cojuangco’s plans to ‘validate’ with the purpose of reviving, and commissioning, this nuclear plant is the height of irresponsibility and arrogance. The BNPP was mothballed for safety reasons which today still remain undisputed by any expert or study.”
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And if anyone has reason to fear the presence of an operational nuclear power plant, that would be the people living near it, who would arguably be the first to feel the effects — including being killed — as a result of any accident, mishap or neglect involved in running the plant.
Yesterday, residents of Bataan, among them members of the Catholic clergy and hierarchy, took part in a rally against the plant’s reopening. The march and rally drew various sectors from all corners of Bataan, among them youth and parish delegations and civil society groups, converging at the Balanga Cathedral.
Among the invited speakers were Msgr. Tony Dumaual who was parish priest of Morong, Bataan, where the BNPP is located, in the 1970s when construction on the power plant began. Dr. Nicanor Perlas, who headed the presidential commission tasked to investigate the safety standards of the nuclear power plant in the 1980s, was also invited.
If the intent is to delay or reverse the effects of global warming, then reviving the BNPP makes little sense, avers Green Peace. Said Baconguis: “Our congressmen must face the simple, indisputable facts: 1) Nuclear power is the most dangerous way to generate electricity, there is also no known scientific solution to safely storing plutonium and its deadly radioactive waste-product which remains radiotoxic for 200,000 years; 2) it is the most expensive source of power: aside from pricey construction costs, nuclear power involves expenses for decommissioning, as well as storage for nuclear waste, each of which can cost as much as a new power plant; 3) it cannot solve climate change — the contribution it can potentially make is negligible, especially if you consider that the processing of uranium as fuel uses so much electricity; and 4) importing more fuel, in this case uranium, is not the way to achieve energy security.”
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Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has been quoted as saying that he “had always been pro-life” and that he would only support so-called “artificial methods” of family planning “as long as it will not destroy life.”
The Senate president was referring to recent developments in the ongoing committee deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill, with the representative of the bishops angrily walking out of a recent technical working group meeting. The House version of the bill has already been reported out of committee but faces a very long queue of interpellators who are bent on wasting the time of legislators rather than shedding more light on the measure.
Enrile was perhaps referring to the contention of some conservative groups that some methods of contraception are actually “abortifacients,” that is, they induce abortion. There is a clash of opinion on this matter, based on one’s belief on when “life” begins. The religious right insists that life begins the moment sperm and egg meet. The scientific community, though, considers a pregnancy “viable” only when the fertilized ovum successfully implants itself in the wall of the uterus.
I find myself agreeing with the evidence-based argument, for there is no way a fertilized ovum can develop into a fetus unless it is first implanted in the mother’s womb. We must also contend with the large numbers of fertilized ova that do not develop further, most probably because they were “blighted” from the start. And what do we do about ectopic pregnancies, a condition that endangers the mother’s health when the fertilized ovum stops its journey to the uterus and remains in the fallopian tube?
A woman I met recently told me about the time she had an ectopic pregnancy and her doctor opted to wait until the zygote grew big enough to threaten her life before she was operated on. Was it part of the doctor’s “ethics” and “conscience” to put her patient in peril because of her qualms about excising “live” tissue?
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But while conservative forces and their allies dither about the fate of fertilized ova, women are dying by the hundreds each year in this country as a result of getting pregnant or while giving birth. In a policy outlining new guidelines for maternal and newborn care, the Department of Health said one of the factors that put mothers and babies at risk is that of “having mistimed, unplanned, unwanted and unsupported pregnancy.” A healthy pregnancy and safe delivery actually begin with choice, with the free decision of a woman to get pregnant given her ability to look after herself and the baby sheltering in her womb.
But when policies withhold contraceptives from the women who most need these, then the policies could only result in more women “dying to give life.”
MANILA, Philippines – A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that a majority or 86 percent of Manila residents support a law on reproductive health (RH).
The SWS survey, conducted last Dec. 27 and 28, also revealed that 88 percent of the 600 respondents agree that Manila should have a policy on reproductive health, while 95 percent say that the city health centers should further improve its services.
The survey results were presented by the SWS during a forum in Quezon City organized by The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The FORUM).
The study entitled “SWS December 2008 Special Omnibus Survey on General Health in Manila (MLA 12-08),” used face-to-face interviews of 600 men and women from the six districts of Manila.
“We do hope that with this latest survey result, our respective legislators in the House of Representatives won’t have any qualms on passing the Reproductive Health bill which would benefit the majority of Filipinos especially couples. The survey is echoing the voice of the true constituency of Congress,” The Forum president Benjamin De Leon said.
De Leon said majority of the respondents agree that there should be a law requiring government to distribute legal contraceptives like condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail, as well as providing of free supplies or services to the poor who wish to use any modern method. The survey also revealed that 92 percent agree that students aged 15 to 24 years old should be given adolescent health education.
De Leon said the revised modules, which include teaching notes on pre-marital sex, commercial sex, abortion and homosexuality, and high-risk sexual practices, are geared to inform the youth on the long-term health and social consequences of sexual risk-taking.
However, the new textbooks emphasize sexual abstinence among adolescents, and ask teachers to lead discussions on the advantages of delaying sexual activities during adolescence.
By Helen Flores
Updated February 18, 2009 06:04 PM