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Friday, July 20, 2012

The de-facto legalization of the RH bill?

From CBCP for Life:

MANILA, July 19, 2012–With RH bill proponents facing imminent defeat in Congress, the Department of Health (DOH) has circumvented the legislative process with the sudden release of an administrative order laying out a nationwide strategy for the distribution of artificial contraceptives.

This was bared by the lawyer heading the legal office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), who described DOH Administrative Order 2012-0009 as practically the implementing rules of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill which has yet to pass Congress.

“Its issuance at a time when Congress and the Senate are deliberating on RH bills mocks and disrespects the authority of a co-equal branch of government,” Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong stated in her preliminary critique of the DOH order.

Misleading people with the “unmet need” myth

Moreover, the DOH is peddling the myth of “unmet need” to justify the surprise order, whose strategy of “subtle coercion and undue influence” could impinge on religious freedom, she added.

Citing a 1996 study presented at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health by Prof. Lant Pritchett, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Imbong said millions of women may want to delay or avoid pregnancy, but that does not mean they want to use contraception.

“The idea of unmet need for contraception ignores the reasons for unmet need that women express, such as concern about health and other side effects of artificial contraception, incompatibility with religious and ethical beliefs, and the financial cost of contraception,” the study said.

Imbong said that “In the Philippines, non-use of a ‘modern’ family planning method among women does not mean they have an ‘unmet need.’ There are myriads of reasons why women do not use artificial contraceptives.”

“Some women refuse to use a method for reasons of religious conviction. Others refrain because of aversion to the side effects, others for fear of mortal consequences to health from the carcinogenic substances. In these cases, there is refusal, hence, there is no ‘need’ to speak of. And yet, all cases of non-use is routinely interpreted as a gaping ‘need’ to justify a massive family planning program such as this,” she pointed out.

The pill has been labeled by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 carcinogen along with asbestos, formaldehyde and other harmful substances.

More recently, a large-scale US study found that injectables more than doubled the risk of breast cancer. In the Philippines, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths.

If there is really an unmet need, Imbong questioned why the order explicitly mandates the Commission on Population (POPCOM) to make sure that there is always “increased demand” for contraceptives.

Strategizing to overturn cultural, religious values

Imbong warned that the new DOH program’s communication plan involves “behavior change,” which means people will be encouraged to turn against their religion.

“The ‘communication’ program described in the Administrative Order is clearly patterned after the WHO strategy of neutralizing and overturning the citizens’ traditional religious, cultural and family values. These are considered by WHO as barriers or obstacles to the population control agenda,” she said.

For instance, DOH teams will go door-to-door to “preach” and exhort couples and individuals in the ethos of contraception in a manner that is person-to-person, “client-centered, life-cycle approach on delivering family planning services at any point of contact.”

“This is a highly unethical and unlawful act of ‘meddling with the private life or family relations’ of spouses and individuals,” the lawyer said.

Imbong also said the DOH’s plan would be a “betrayal of the poor,” who need livelihood more than condoms and pills.

“The incessant targeting by DOH of poor families for contraception and sterilization abuses and exploits the moral dependence, indigence, and other weakness of the poor. This is an open violation of human rights of the poor,” she said.

“If the poor and indigent families have an unmet need, these are for food on their table, medicine for common ailments, nutrition for mothers, infants and children, clean drinking water, electricity, sanitation, education, and means of livelihood.” (Dominic Francisco)


The following is an initial critique of DOH Administrative Order 2012-0009

PRELIMINARY CRITIQUE OF DOH ADMIN. ORDER 2012-009 “National Strategy Towards Reducing Unmet Need for ...

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