Monday, October 25, 2010

My Stand on the RH Bill

UPDATE: See RH Bill: The Lost Equation

This post will not be a petty post. No, this will not be about Carlos Celdran, the CBCP or some famed columnist who's openly expressed his or her stand on the RH Bill. I'm afraid this will not satisfy the appetite of those who are only after the side issues.

My opinion sticks to the RH Bill itself--why it should be passed or not and what are the common misconceptions about it. It will be direct, concise and non-offensive. So if you've been mentally fatigued by the brouhahas of the issue, you might find some sort of respite in reading this blog.

My stand on the RH Bill is, it should be passed.

It is a known fact that the State upholds the rights of each and every individual. And primary to these rights is the individual's freedom to choose; hence, it is the government's responsibility to ensure that this freedom is well taken care of. What the RH Bill seeks to provide are adequate information and services that will enable Filipinos to make informed choices for the best interest of their families.

I must say that in stating my opinion above, I am both for choice and definitely, for life--two things that the RH Bill stands for. Apparently, objections have been improperly hurled against the Bill out of unfounded opinions, which I will discuss one by one in the next few paragraphs.

Myth A - The RH Bill supports abortion. First and foremost, the Bill explicitly states that “abortion remains a crime and is punishable.” Next, although the Bill ensures the provision of care for women seeking post-abortion care, it does not entail that it supports abortion. I believe that by being unbiased and forgiving, the Bill itself is humane and if you may, very Christian. Further, to say that this Bill will eventually allow abortion to be legalized is by no means true on the basis that it declares respect to life as a matter of policy.

Myth B - The RH Bill will result into an aging and thinning population. The RH Bill shall not enforce any restrictions on the number of children that each family should have, as in the case of China's One Child Policy. The RH Bill strives to educate parents to have the right number of children that they can support well physically, mentally and emotionally.

Myth C - The RH Bill destroys the family as an institution. Of course not. It's easy to see that the Bill is created to strengthen the Filipino family simply by reading it. :-)

Myth D - The RH Bill encourages teenage / pre-marital sex through Sex Education. The age-appropriate Reproductive Health Education that will be included in the curriculum of both public and private schools aims to raise children to become informed and responsible parents. Among the key concepts to be covered in the curriculum is “abstinence before marriage.” It is just right to teach these things during the formative years of the individual.

Moving on, the RH Bill must not be reduced to the issue of contraceptives. The Bill goes beyond that. It addresses longstanding issues on gender inequality, violence, STDs and gaps in reproductive healthcare and post-natal care, as well as provides the platform for their execution. It aims to make reproductive healthcare education and services both available and accessible to the marginalized. It seeks to bring people together to ensure improved reproductive health and better families for all.

It particularly interests me that the Bill provides to ensure that employers will not discriminate against women in consideration of their reproductive health rights, and that the Bill also seeks to have reproductive healthcare services included in Collective Bargaining Agreements. (I have indeed heard a firsthand story of a friend who was rejected by the hiring manager of this large and supposedly Corporate Social Responsibility-embracing financial institution with her being a single parent as one of the cited reasons. At this point also, it seems necessary to point out the need to designate clean and private rooms for breastfeeding and expressing milk in offices and public places.)

The Catholic Church is definitely an important institution in the country whose work for the poor has significantly contributed to national development. However, when we talk about policy, the State should supersede the Church being that the latter is just a faction of the population that the State governs.

For years, I have kept my silence on the issue because of having to weigh my convictions. People have asked as it seemed highly unlikely for someone who's written on some women's issues through World of Womanity. I am aware that in breaking my silence, I will be attracting criticisms – some of which may be just as biased and unfounded as the others.

But really, at this point in my life and as a matter of choice, regardless if the RH Bill will be passed or not, I will strive to adhere to my religious principles.

“Fundamentalism flourishes in a context of fear and uncertainty... But such uncertainty does not grant one person the right to impose his or her beliefs on another, especially as such beliefs are so often fear-driven.” - James Hollis, Ph.D., Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves

Source: Full text of House Bill No. 5043 (Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008)

NEW! These items are worth reading:


  1. Re. Abortion: the Bill stipulates that a minor - without parental consent - CAN OPT for abortion if she gets pregnant as a result of rape. If the Bill upholds that abortion is illegal, then it should be illegal in ALL cases, period. THIS is the window that will allow it to eventually become legal.

    I also cannot allow that children/youth will be taught sex education in the context of "their right to a healthy and satisfying sex life".

    Children BRAINWASHED into believing this will eventually think it is all right to ask for money for contraceptives from their own parents because school teaches them that a "safe and satisfying sex life" is their RIGHT.

    And if, as a parent, one says otherwise, I can just imagine the child's follow-up questions: "How can it be wrong when it is taught in schools?" Or, "If you don't give me money for contraceptives, you violate "my RIGHT" to a safe and satisfying sex life."

    There are billions of pesos involved in the passage of the RH Bill. It's really no small wonder politicians are hell-bent on having it passed :)

  2. Hi NikkiKat, thanks for sending your thoughts on the RH BIll; also read your blog.

    Re: abortion - thanks for pointing that out. I went through the Bill again but apparently, I cannot find the provision which you mentioned. Instead, I found this on Sec. 21 Prohibited Acts:

    3. Refuse to provide reproductive health care services to an abused minor, whose abused condition is certified by the proper official or personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or to duly DSWD-certified abused pregnant minor on whose case no parental consent is necessary.

    I do not think that the reproductive healthcare services being mentioned here will mean abortion as doing so will violate more pressing provisions of the Bill, particularly that which states that abortion remains a criminal act.

    Meanwhile, the Bill does not teach "Sex Education" rather, it teaches "age-appropriate" "Reproductive Health Education" which include "abstinence before marriage."

    Considering your points, I believe that the Bill still needs polishing to better suit the needs of all Filipinos. :-)

  3. Hi Joyce :)

    Interesting points. Even reading your bit of back story at the end, I'm not sure why you hesitated to make/publish your opinion on the bill :) But heck, not that it's any of my business, and I do agree with your arguments :)

    In the interests of keeping peace on somebody else's online turf, I won't comment on the other comment. :) Here though is a link to the full text of the bill:

    Wasn't able to find anything about "safe and satisfying sex life" in it, not even via Ctrl+F. Wouldn't be the first time an anti person appeared to be quoting from / was referring to an entirely different text though.

  4. Thank you Andi for reading my post, as well as for the kind words. I really appreciate people who send their comments after going through the full text of the bill - no matter if they share the same opinions with me or not. (I also got an interesting comment from another lawyer contact at my Facebook.)

    As for the back story, I was just being careful about not offending people I consider my mentors. But it's interesting to note that there are Catholics, even priests like the Jesuits, whose stand on the issue is moderate. Given that, I'm hoping that the Bill will be passed with all its important provisions intact. :-)

  5. Great job on the post, and great job on the comments. I hope people will actually read the bill's contents and not rely on what other people are saying it is. My own take is on my new blog, although it's not as diplomatic and as eloquent as yours. LOL!

  6. Hello, thanks for the kind words. Just visited your blog; I agree that many anti-RH Bill folks are full of misconceptions. I hope that people would approach the Bill with an open mind.