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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Already covered by existing law

I am posting this article solely to add more arguments in favor of the pro-life contention that the RH Bill is unnecessary given the existing laws of our country. In posting this, it is not my intention to endorse the now-passed Magna Carta for Women, which is itself controversial, and which contains provisions that go against Church teaching on the family and human sexuality. See the following article: Government Attacks Against the Family.

RH bill is unnecessary
Business Option
May 11, 2011, 11:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — HB No. 5043, entitled “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for Other Purposes,” more commonly known as the RH Bill is unnecessary and superfluous. (The RH Bill is now HB 4244 - CAP)

We do not need the RH Bill. We have enough laws and the executive branch has sufficient administrative powers to enforce what the vaunted RH Bill purports to provide. In particular, there is RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, which was approved and signed into law on August 14, 2009, and affirmed by its Implementing Rules and Regulations approved on March 30, 2010.

The RH Bill purports to claim as a guiding principle “gender equality of women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population development,” among other things. Section 2, Chapter 1 of the Magna Carta declares as a policy that “the State affirms the role of women in nation building and ensures the substantive equality of women and men.” Further it says that it “shall promote the empowerment of women...the State affirms women’s rights as human rights and shall intensify its efforts to fulfil its duties under international and domestic law to recognize, respect, protect, fulfil, and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms of women...”

Section 17, Chapter 14 renders the RH Bill moot and redundant with its detailed description of “Women’s Right to Health” i.e., “The State shall, at all times, provide for a comprehensive, culture-sensitive, and gender-responsive health services and programs covering all stages of a woman’s life cycle and which addresses the major causes of women’s mortality and morbidity: Provided, That in the provision for comprehensive health services, due respect should be accorded to women’s religious convictions, the rights of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood, and the right of women to protection from hazardous drugs, devices, interventions and substances.”

The RH Bill rules as essential medicines “hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectibles and other allied reproductive health products and supplies...” but fails to consider that certain contraceptives have been found to be cancer-prone, and certain devices and injectibles are harmful to women.

The provisions in the RH Bill concerning midwives for skilled attendance, emergency obstetric care, maternal death review and hospital-based family planning are amply covered in the Magna Carta’s enumeration of services that shall be ensured, viz.: Maternal care to include pre- and post-natal services to address pregnancy and infant health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; responsible, ethical, legal, safe and effective methods of family planning; family and State collaboration in youth sexuality, education and health services without prejudice to the primary right and duty of parents to educate their children; prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, including sexually transmitted disease, HIV, and AIDS; prevention and management of reproductive tract cancers like breast and cervical cancers and other gynaecological conditions and disorders; prevention of abortion and management of pregnancy-related complications; prevention and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction pursuant to ethical norms and medical standards...

The Magna Carta also provides for comprehensive health information and education to women in all sectors with appropriate, timely, complete, and accurate information and education of all of the stated aspects of women’s health in government and education and training programs with due regard to: the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth and the development of moral character and the right of children to be brought up in an atmosphere of morality and rectitude for the enrichment and strengthening of character; the formation of a person’s sexuality that affirms human dignity; and ethical, legal, safe, and effective family planning methods including fertility awareness.

There is no need for an RH Bill. Its provisions are well-covered under the Magna Carta of Women which recognizes the rights of women and families in their choices of family size and the rearing of their children. Trying to pass the RH Bill which up to now has not resolved some of its controversial provisions raises the question about outside forces that continue to impinge on our nation’s right to independently craft its own laws that take into account its cultural and moral sensitivities.


Other columns by Mercedes Suleik that discuss the RH bill:

Blessed John Paul II and the Family -- Manila Bulletin website, May 4, 2011

Sex education hullabaloo -- Manila Bulletin website, June 30, 2010

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