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
Filipinos are known worldwide for their strong family ties and filial love and respect for elders and as staunch defenders and protectors of their women and children. Their respect and care for mothers, wives and children are relatively much more intense and intimate than that of people in any other country.
This admirable trait is deeply embedded in our culture. No law is even necessary to bring about such kind of respect for, as well as care and protection of our women and children. But just to preserve, enhance and support this desirable Filipino culture, and to assure that it will not be eventually set aside and disregarded, our legislators chose to enshrine it in the legislative annals by enacting Republic Act 9262 otherwise known as “Anti Violence against Women and Children Act” in 2004.
Lately, our legislators seem to have gone a step further by drawing up what it considered a “Magna Carta for Women” that on its face looks laudable or even badly needed in this present modernistic and materialistic day and age. Unfortunately on closer scrutiny, the said Magna Carta is turning out to be another insidious attempt to sneak into our statute books some of the toxic provisions of the RH bill. Vigorously campaigning for its approval is an organization known as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Watch Philippines. Working closely with it is the Philippine Legislative Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) the same foreign-funded NGO which is the architect and principal promoter of the still pending RH bill. The backers of the “Magna Carta” betray the hidden agenda behind it.
It is really quite deplorable that these groups where some members of Congress belong are exploiting our own Filipino culture to advance their anti-life and anti-family, pro-abortion-population control agenda under the guise of a bill purportedly empowering women, upholding their dignity, protecting their rights and assuring their equality with men in economic, political, social and cultural life.
Because of their subtly altered form, some unconstitutional, anti-life and anti-family provisions of the Magna Carta went unnoticed, enabling it to breeze through second reading in both Houses. The report is that an appallingly large number of the members of Congress were not completely aware that the versions of the bill in their chamber were already approved on second reading and what remained was the pro-forma approval of the printed version on third reading.
In the Senate, the approval on second reading was reconsidered to accommodate new amendments. But it appears that some of these amendments worsened the objectionable features in the bill and rendered it all the more unconstitutional, anti-life and anti-family. But as expected the bill has also been approved on third reading.
The remaining step in the legislative mill is therefore the reconciliation of the Lower House and the Senate versions of the “Act providing for the Magna Carta of Women” by a Bicameral Conference Committee (BICAM) which will come out with the final version for signing into law. This should be one of those times when the existence of this Committee as some sort of a Third House of Congress further refining the products of both chambers can be appreciated. But again this largely depends on the BICAM’s composition. In this particular bill, most of the BICAM members designated by both chambers are also listed as “members” of the PLCPD. So they will expectedly insist on their “pet” provisions which are similar to the objectionable portions of the RH bill but in subtler more appealing form because it is supposedly pro-women.
Indeed one of the Senate BICAM members and principal sponsor of the Magna Carta, Senator Pia Cayetano has already come out with a press release warning that the BICAM should not “emaciate” the said bill. Cayetano insists that there is nothing in the bill which would allow abortion as abortion remains illegal under the 1987 Constitution. Yet in almost the same breadth she is batting for the use of contraceptives by women for the “reproductive health” citing in the process the high maternal mortality rate among Filipino women especially the poor. Obviously Cayetano (Pia) is using the same fallacious and deceptive argument advanced by the proponents of the RH bill. She still refuses to see that the “reproductive health care services” she is promoting that allows the use of contraceptives may cause abortion or cancer among women; and that “reproductive health” is neither about reproduction or health as it prevents or terminates pregnancy and may lead to death due to breast, cervical or liver cancer according to the studies conducted by WHO itself.
In the Lower House, Congressman Edcel Lagman, the principal sponsor of the RH bill is also the staunch backer of the Magna Carta. According to highly reliable sources Lagman suggested at a pre BICAM meeting the bill’s provisions be anchored solely on their adherence to the CEDAW and other international instruments which are in direct collision with our Charter and existing laws. Lagman also reportedly suggested the retention of provisions formally objected to by the Episcopal Commission of Family and Life and the CBCP Office on Women. He also reportedly wants to remove the word “ethical” qualifying the family planning methods made available in the bill as one of the comprehensive health services while insisting on the retention of “management of abortion complications” obviously to bring them fully in line with his RH bill.
The BICAM should therefore be more careful and should not rush the drafting of the final version of this bill just to have a photo-op for its signing on Women’s day celebration this coming March. There may not even be any signing at all if the final version is adopted in similar fashion as the versions of the Upper and Lower Houses; or if there will be a signing, its unconstitutional portion will just be invalidated by the Supreme Court.
Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.
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A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison
Updated February 20, 2009 12:00 AM
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