All this buzz, but what’s the RH Bill really on?


Last year, I talked about how during Valentine’s day, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) gave away free condoms with roses as a way to advance the family planning program and the passing of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill – apparently sacrilegious in the eyes of many Filipinos due to the influence of the Catholic Church.

But why is it so controversial? You be the judge, and check out this passage from Reproductive health bill: Facts, fallacies. Kinda dated, but still good:

“Coverage of RH. (1) Information and access to natural and modern family planning (2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition (3) Promotion of breast feeding (4) Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications (5) Adolescent and youth health (6) Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and STDs (7) Elimination of violence against women (8) Counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health (9) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers (10) Male involvement and participation in RH; (11) Prevention and treatment of infertility and (12) RH education for the youth.

Strengthening of Popcom. The existing Population Commission shall be reoriented to promote both natural and modern family planning methods. It shall serve as the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body for the comprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development.

Capability building of community-based volunteer workers. The workers shall undergo additional and updated training on the delivery of reproductive healthcare services and shall receive not less than 10-percent increase in honoraria upon successful completion of training.

Midwives for skilled birth attendance. Every city and municipality shall endeavor to employ an adequate number of midwives and other skilled attendants.

Emergency obstetrics care. Each province and city shall endeavor to ensure the establishment and operation of hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel that provide emergency obstetrics care.

Hospital-based family planning. Family planning methods requiring hospital services like ligation, vasectomy and IUD insertion shall be available in all national and local government hospitals.

Contraceptives as essential medicines. Reproductive health products shall be considered essential medicines and supplies and shall form part of the National Drug Formulary considering that family planning reduces the incidence of maternal and infant mortality.

Reproductive health education. RH education in an age-appropriate manner shall be taught by adequately trained teachers from Grade 5 to 4th year high school. As proposed in the bill, core subjects include responsible parenthood, natural and modern family planning, proscription and hazards of abortion, reproductive health and sexual rights, abstinence before marriage, and responsible sexuality.

Certificate of compliance. No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office. The document should certify that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breast feeding and infant nutrition.

Ideal family size. The State shall encourage two children as the ideal family size. This is neither mandatory nor compulsory and no punitive action may be imposed on couples having more than two children.

Employers? responsibilities. Employers shall respect the reproductive health rights of all their workers. Women shall not be discriminated against in the matter of hiring, regularization of employment status or selection for retrenchment. Employers shall provide free reproductive health services and commodities to workers, whether unionized or unorganized.

Multimedia campaign. Popcom shall initiate and sustain an intensified nationwide multimedia campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the urgent need to protect and promote reproductive health and rights.”

Personally, I think it’s about time this happens. Alright – moment of silence to reflect on how awesome this is.

What do you mean, why?!

The Philippines is just about one of the most overpopulated countries in the world. It’s the 12th most populous city, according to Excuse me, cramming more than 100 million people in 300 thousand sq. km.?! The US has more than 300 million people, but over 9 million sq. km. in land area!!!! Alright, granted that’s not really the best argument, but seriously, think about it. If you take into account that the poorest of the poor and about 30% of the population of the Philippines are located in rural areas who depend on agriculture for their livelihood, just how much land can you farm? Probably smaller than a US backyard, and how much does that earn you? I just can’t wrap my head around that. (Plus, rural folk usually have waaay more sex and more kids.)

Limited resources and all, you can say we’re saved by the thousands upon thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who go abroad yearly – often never to return. And that speaks a lot about the country’s ability to feed its people and keep them happy. This also results to brain drain. And worsens the economic situation.

Lack of the RH Bill is horrendous for living conditions (have you ever slept in a tiny room with 10 people?! Okay, exaggerating, but it’s been known to have happened). And horrible for reproductive health. Nefarious for education (not enough money to fund schools and programs due to the sheer number of kids). And propagates ignorance. Just how bad is it? See Manila: A megacity where the living must share with the dead.

Yep, we’re in dire need for some change in this end.