Author Topic: The RH Law: 2 Years After  (Read 12405 times)

Miss Mae

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The RH Law: 2 Years After
« on: April 08, 2015, 12:56:09 PM »
Based on the progress report of the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) for 2013-2014, the number of unintended pregnancies that were averted in the country rose from 1,540,000 in 2012 to 1,622,000 in 2013.

The number of maternal deaths that were prevented rose, however, from 817 in 2012 to 860 in 2013 as well as the number of unsafe abortions from 536,000 in 2012 to 564,000 n 2013.

The Philippines is among the countries where more than 30 percent of women still have an unmet need for modern contraception.

So in 2012, it committed $15 million to provide family planning commodities to poor women with these unmet needs.

SC Ruling

In July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court denied all motions for reconsideration and affirmed the constitutionality of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Act of 2012 or the RH Law.

It declared, though, that its penal provisions are unconstitutional.

“Indeed, at the present, the country has a population problem, but the State should not use coercive measures (like the penal provisions of the RH law against conscientious objectors) to solve it,” the Supreme Court was reported saying.

It further argued that population control may not be beneficial for a developing country like the Philippines. Case in point: The country has nearly 100 million people, a tenth of which are currently working overseas. Poverty will still persist even if population growth is controlled as long as the country’s wealth remains in the hands of the rich.

FDA-approved

The RH law was planned to be fully implemented by November 30, 2014 once the FDA certifies which of the contraceptives to be distributed by the Department of Health (DOH) are non-abortifacient.

It required government health centers to provide condoms and birth control pills for free. Public health workers should undergo family planning training and schools must teach sex education. The law may be legalizing post-abortion medical care, but not abortion itself.

“Why does abortion happen? Mainly because of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. It’s a big problem we cannot solve overnight. The RH law intends to solve this,” Health Undersecretary Janette Garin was reported saying.

Teen’s voices

The absence of teen voices in the two public health issues that affects them—human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and teen pregnancy—has been the one that triggered the alarming rates, some children’s rights advocates countered.

As of October 2014, there were 5,010 new HIV infections recorded since January of that year (AIDS Registry report released by the Department of Health National Epidemiological Center).

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the ASEAN region: 13.6% or one in 10 girls between 15 to 19 already have a child (2013 Young Adult and Fertility Survey).

The Real Deal

Dr. Juan Antonio Perez, executive director for the Commission on Population (Popcom), believes that the reproductive health law came at the right moment because a growing population has an impact on the quality of environment since it increases pollution and diminishes forest lands in favor of farms to produce more food, according to a report.

The poor are also dependent on climate-sensitive resources, like farming, he added.

In another story, Rose Marcelino, Popcom deputy executive director, believes that the inability of women to secure reproductive health services, birthing facilities and even the help of health professionals are among the causes of maternal deaths in the country.

“We are still far from our MDG target of 52 maternal deaths per 100,000. Ideally we want zero deaths but the Department of Health and other agencies are doing their best to meet the target by 2015.”

“Most of the provisions of the reproductive health law address the right of women to access reproductive health services, which would help lessen maternal mortality.”

Lack of professional midwives also accounts for nearly all childbirth-related deaths in majority of the world’s poor countries, an analysis had found out.

In a review led by the United Nations Populations Fund and the World Health Organization, only Armenia, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Jordan ‘have adequate resources in place’ among the 73 low- and middle-income nations.

"More than three-quarters face serious shortages that will result in unnecessary deaths of women and babies," said Frances Day-Stirk, president of the International Confederation of Midwives, in a report.

The other countries included in the review were China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Guatemala and Mexico.

In Western Mindanao, at least one woman dies every week upon giving birth because of poor maternal care, hemorrhage and eclampsia.

The national average was 220 deaths per 100,000 deliveries.

There’s also lack of access to health facilities, especially among indigents.

A Solo Filipina’s Take

There is the argument that life should be respected. It is the first official teaching of the Church—the first principle of the Canon law—that Bishop Leandro Medroso, council member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), would like to “investigate immediately” anybody against it (August 21, 2012]). The House Bill 4244—that became the Republic Act 10354 two years ago—will just “create a culture of irresponsibility,” “threaten constitutional rights,” and “weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values.”

Then there is the argument that population should be controlled in a country like the Philippines. Sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation, maintained Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J., J. S. D., a Jesuit and Dean Emeritus of the Ateneo Law School in Makati (May 23, 2011). The RH Law will just empower couples and prevent teenage pregnancy, “which is as real as the number of young girls dying from pregnancy-related deaths.”

I remember a conversation I had with a friend who thinks the then-RH Bill is necessary. It reminded me of my PEHM teacher when I was in third year high school. Right after our class discussion about the different family planning methods, she disclosed to us why she and her husband just had a son after seven years. “We communicate,” she had said.

Aside from the contentions of the pro-RH and anti-RH camps is the fact that four babies are born every minute in the country. Every person, too, is counted in the "arithmetic of population statistics." Sexual pleasure is a human right and poor women cannot afford medical care.

In that case, I could not but join my friend in his pro-RH stance. For a different reason, that is. Let the law prevail so that not only a few would realize that no method of contraception could curb the Filipino population. It is what my PEHM teacher and her husband do every time the lights go out in their room at night.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 02:02:33 PM by Joe Carillo »