What is RH Bill or Reproductive Health Bill? Should this bill be enacted as a Philippine law or not? House Bill 4244, otherwise known as “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011” is now pending to be passed at the Fifteenth Congress of the Philippines. HB 4244, which is submitted on February 21, 2011 to the House of Representatives for approval, is considered as the consolidated House Bill in substitution of the previous bills on reproductive health introduced by different representatives (authors), such as the House Bill No. 96 by Rep. Edcel Lagman. If you haven’t read the Bill, you can download its full text and also the Senate Bill 2378, known as The Reproductive Health Act introduced by Miriam Santiago, at the links provided at the bottom of this article.
Why I write this article
You may be wondering why I write this article since this blog is about giving business tips and not about publishing commentaries and opinions on a very controversial health bill, such as the RH Bill. Well, it’s been my passion to share my views and insights on anything that can affect the lives of Filipinos, which include our fight against poverty and our movement towards economic development. As people exercise their right to freedom of speech, I am also expressing my freedom to give my stand on such issue that involves all Filipinos, including the workers, employers, teachers and even taxpayers. We have the right to suggest where the government officials should use the hard-earned money we remit to the government using BIR tax returns.
Before you make a comment
The comment form of this blog post is located at the bottom of this article. Hence, before anyone else exudes his emotions to an Anti-RH bill guy like me, I recommend reading the whole article first from top to bottom and not jump below to fire any uninformed comments. Furthermore, I expect respect i.e., avoidance of personal attacks. I love a friendly debate where principles are contested to determine the better principles and eradicate the lesser principles.
Why I’m against the RH bill?
Actually, I am pro RH or reproductive health. What I’m against of… is the bill on the RH Bill. Reproductive health (which refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes) is great and I have nothing to be against it. But when you put the RH on a bill (specifically on HB 4244), it becomes a different story. The following are the reasons why I’m not in favor of the current RH bill:
1. Freedom of choice
The first guiding principle of RH bill is the freedom of choice, which is central to the exercise of right, and which must be fully guaranteed by the State. Pro-RH bill stands that the proposed bill will give parents the opportunities to exercise their right to freely and responsibly plan the number and spacing of their children, enhance the right to health as it reduces maternal, child and newborn mortality, and improve the people’s right to sustainable human development.
Let’s face the reality, are we currently having a crisis about our freedom of choice and the freedom to exercise our rights, and the RH bill is the solution to that problem? Can’t we find condoms at the counter of groceries and supermarkets? Are our public and private doctors prohibited from endorsing artificial contraceptives? Is the Department of Health futile in educating the Filipino people about family planning?
Of course supporters of RH bill will say that this bill is for the poor who can’t afford to spend money for contraceptive pills, IUDs and condoms which can only be purchased by rich people. That is why the government needs to utilize its internal revenue to buy condoms and other artificial contraceptives for the free distribution to the poor people. Will this great availability of artificial contraceptives to the poor help them improve their right to sustainable human development? Why not strengthen our government programs that give them jobs, enhance their skills, and give them financial aid to start or support their own small business if we are aiming a sustainable human development here? Reproductive health alone will not sustain human life. If we want to hit the bull’s-eye, we need to aim on the central problem, which is poverty. Overpopulation is not the cause of poverty in the Philippines… it is the effect of poverty in our country.
2. Birth control and artificial contraceptives
One of the major debates on RH bill is the use of artificial contraceptives for birth control and family planning. The CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) opposed the use of artificial family planning (e.g., IUDs and pills), which are abortifacients or can cause abortions, claiming on the position that life begins at fertilization, that is, when the sperm penetrates the egg. On the other hand, RH Bill advocates explain that these artificial contraceptives are legal and they are already accessible by the couples over the counter. So what’s the role of RH bill? The answer is to allocate a national budget for purchasing these supplies and freely distribute them to the poor people who can’t afford to buy them. Now will that movement make the lives of the poor people sustainable? Will those condoms and IUDs enhance the welfare of these people?
Free condoms will not make the poor people lives sustainable. These will not overcome poverty among them. They will even destroy the one great solution for eradicating poverty in the country, that is, self-control. Unlike artificial family planning, natural methods (e.g., abstinence and calendar method) teach a person to learn self-control – a great virtue we need to attain total health and achieve progress. On the other hand, the universal access to condoms and the like will just increase the abuse of its use and even increase adultery, which can lead to more broken families. Just consider a husband, who can freely obtain 30 condoms in a month, does it mean he is free to have sexual intercourse with his wife every day of the month? Alas, some people even become more confident in using these tools to commit adultery. Sex is a gift given by God for couples to be enjoyed. But the Bible also encourages us to observe self-control.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
Therefore, why do we need to use the money of the government to spend on artificial contraceptives, if we can focus on educating the poor with natural, safer, cheaper and more effective family planning? I bet majority of Filipinos, rich or poor, have misconception about the accurate calculation of the calendar method of family planning.
There are also other things that we must consider in spreading these artificial contraceptives among the corners of our nation. It doesn’t mean that they are considered legal, they are also safe. If you are a nature lover, you should be aware that improper disposal of these non-biodegradable latex condoms can harm our environment. Furthermore, other artificial contraceptives are still contested about their safety.
3. The unwanted children
The RH Bill aims to prevent unexpected pregnancies and avoid the so called unwanted children. With this goal, it seems that the authors of this bill focus on producing quality children (people to be born) through the use of natural and artificial contraceptives. But why should not we focus on improving the lives of those who were already born? If we can provide quality lives to parents, these parents can produce quality children on their own. So why don’t we teach them how to catch fish, rather than giving them fish for free. Of course the RH bill also aims to improve the reproductive health of parents, women and men, aside from promoting artificial family planning. But again spending the money of the government for the universal access of these artificial stuff is not practical as it gets.
RH bill lawmakers and supporters seem to consider the so called unwanted children as a disease to be cured through aggressive family planning that includes artificial methods. Yes these AFP methods are 100% legal, but are they 100% safe? There are many legal drugs over the counter that can kill old people, how much more the unborn child?
It extremely saddens me how people treat children who were born from unexpected or unwanted pregnancies. Can we really call them unwanted children? We all know that sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancies. That is why when people do it, they must understand the responsibilities and consequences behind this process. Moreover, these innocent children are not the cause of poverty in the Philippines. They are not a disease that must be cured by these IUDs, pills and condoms. There are children like them who have grown as successful people, and have contributed to the growth of this nation. What we need to cure is the mentality of the Filipino people! It’s a disease that is consuming our country! Can we treat this disease with condoms???
4. RH bill is not suitable for a country full of corrupt political leaders
If RH bill passes as a law, the government fund derived from the hard-earned income of the Filipino taxpayers will be appropriated for the procurement of all the stuff needed to implement the RH in the Philippines. Now, the question is, will this act really guarantees that the poor will be the ones who will benefit, and not the corrupt officials of this country and their capitalist counterparts (producers of these contraceptives)? Can we place pork in the middle of alligators? This is just like implementing the death penalty in a country where numerous of innocent people are sentenced because of the poor justice system. The implementation of the current RH bill is just like painting a wall to make it beautiful without removing the dirt in it! Will the paint lasts? I urge President President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to accomplish first his promise to stop corruption before he favors this bill.
5. Other reasons to oppose the RH Bill
I say no to the current RH Bill because of those reasons above and the following:
– It is not practical and is redundant. The women are already protected by the “Magna Carta for Women and the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004”.
– The best solution for poverty today is not birth-control, it is self-control.
– Read Section 16 of the HB 4244. Do you want your grade 5 children, to be taught of “Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education”, which includes (a) Values formation; (b) Knowledge and skills in self protection against discrimination, sexual violence and abuse, and teen pregnancy; (c) Physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; (d) Children’s and women’s rights; (e) Fertility awareness; (f) STI, HIV and AIDS; (g) Population and development; (h) Responsible relationship; (i) Family planning methods; (j) Proscription and hazards of abortion; (k) Gender and development; and (l) Responsible parenthood.
– As a Christian, I believe that life can begin even before fertilization. God takes life, and He is also the one who gives life; it’s not the people. If death will happen, so as birth will. We cannot deny the fact that there are also many couples who want to have children but they aren’t capable, and there are also aged women who can still give birth to a child.
– My religion is all about love. Therefore, I cannot separate it from the estate. What estate can we have, if it is separated from love?
– The RH Bill has many good sections that I really favor, such as the requirement of certificate of compliance for responsible parenthood before the Local Civil Registrar issues a certificate of marriage to a couple (Section 18). However, there are certain sections on this bill that can harm the Filipino people. Although a bill can be a bunch of fresh tomatoes, it will all become rotten if mixed with hidden and certain rotten tomatoes.
This is my current stand on the proposed RH Bill. Again, I’m pro RH or reproductive Health, but I’m not favoring the current RH bill. There is so much to say, but a single blog page cannot accommodate it all. I just hope that the lawmakers can come up with an RH bill that can unite us all, not divide us. I love to read comments, supports and objections of this article. But I reserve the right to delete harsh comments that wickedly throw personal attacks to people.