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Monday, May 16, 2011

Atty. Sison's suggestions for the RH bill - an indirect commentary on this bill's many defects

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) 
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) 
Updated May 16, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (15)

Based on the statements originating from the different MalacaƱang spokespersons and from P-Noy himself, the only things clear at this stage about their stand on the RH bill are: that the government wants to give “complete and accurate information” on the natural and artificial methods of family planning but would not prefer one over the other because the “parents themselves need to be the ones to decide and look after the welfare of their families”; that P-Noy is against abortion; and that “the government would have to consider what would benefit the majority even if it would be unpopular and earn criticism from some groups”.

Admittedly, it is necessary to have a complete and accurate information before deciding and making a choice, more so a “wise” choice. Hence the administration and P-Noy himself should ensure that the RH bill must contain a provision requiring the government agencies concerned, particularly the DOH and the DSWD: to inform the couples or the parents about the adverse effects of artificial contraceptives or modern methods of family planning including condoms; to embark on a massive information drive warning the people that these artificial contraceptives are dangerous to their health and welfare; that certain chemical and mechanical contraceptive devices cause abortion, or have side effects specifically breast cancer, cervical cancer, hardening of the arteries, heart disease/stroke and other serious sexually transmissible diseases.

On the other hand, since the government would not prefer one over the other method, the bill should also have a provision requiring government agencies to equally support the information campaign on natural family planning (NFP). There should be a provision in the bill training the DOH and the DSWD personnel on how (NFP) works and mobilizing them to conduct a program explaining the NFP methods to couples or parents especially the poor ones in the same manner they are required to give the reproductive health care services promoting artificial contraceptives as the modern method of family planning. The bill must require government personnel to inform the people that unlike the modern methods, the NFP does not force them to take anything or undergo any procedure that is dangerous to the life and health of the mother and child because it only entails some form of self control and self sacrifice on their part by abstaining from sex for certain periods.

The bill supposedly gives couples, especially women the “freedom of informed choice” while at the same time declaring that it does not legalize abortion. In fact P-Noy himself said he is against abortion but would also like to give the couples or parents that freedom. Hence the bill should also have a provision requiring the government agencies concerned to issue stern warnings on couples or parents who choose the modern methods of family planning that some of the contraceptives they may pick may render them liable for abortion under Article 257-259 of the Revised Penal Code. Indeed the bill should already specify these abortion causing contraceptives based on well researched medical studies so that couples and parents will really have an “informed choice” and would be ready to suffer the consequences of their choice because “freedom of choice” does not certainly include the freedom to choose something that will result in the murder of an innocent, helpless and defenseless child in the womb of the mother.

The bill should also remove the provisions on sex education for children from grade five up because based on the examples of other countries particularly the US such kind of sex education teaches the wrong values that results in premarital sex and unwanted teen pregnancies that eventually ends in abortion and its legalization. While the bill gives parents the option of allowing or not allowing their children to take such sex education, parents are not well informed of the dire consequences of such sex education, hence they may not really be exercising the freedom of “an informed choice”.

Since the bill repeatedly talks of the freedom of choice, the coercive provisions against those who criticize or attack it, or who do not want to observe some of the practices and procedures it requires, should be removed. These provisions clearly contradict the very freedom that the bill supposedly espouses. More importantly, they actually infringe on the bill of rights enshrined in our Constitution particularly the freedom of speech and the freedom of religious belief and worship (Sections 4 and 5, Article III).

Actually, the bill is not necessary. It is not the solution to the many ills besetting our country especially the problem of poverty allegedly due to overpopulation and the increasing number of maternal death and infant mortality while giving births. In the first place the identified root causes of the problem are wrong hence the solutions are not the proper and effective solutions. Poverty is not due to overpopulation but to the “flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services etc.”. Maternal death and infant mortality are not due to increasing number of pregnancies that should be prevented through contraceptives. The bill indeed has several other good provisions addressing this particular problem, but the same could already be implemented even without its passage like upgrading of the facilities and equipment for obstetric care and for prevention of illnesses connected with reproduction or birth.

But if the bill should be passed, it should at least incorporate the above suggestions. This is the only way to prove that the bill is original and not actually a creation of international groups and foreign countries out to implement a hidden agenda of controlling our population for their own selfish interest. Perhaps this is the kind of bill P-Noy should support because it is closer to his description of a bill for the benefit of the majority even if it is unpopular and earn the criticism of some groups”.

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