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Weighing the Pros and Cons: REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL

Written By TheJon Diesta on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | 5/10/2011

The reproductive health bill is one of the controversial issues in the country nowadays due to its urgent signing of the government which is not supported by the religious sector. Since then, the RH Bill has been a contentious social issue because it opposes two powerful sectors with each other – the Church and the development non-government sector supported by government technocrats.

Why these two sectors are opposing with each other about the RH Bill? First, the Catholic Church pits this bill because it promotes the use of artificial birth control methods such as birth-control pills and condoms, saying these could lead to promiscuity and a rise in abortion cases. They advocate natural family planning methods such as ecological breastfeeding and systematic natural family planning. On the contrary, the development nongovernment sector supported the RH Bill because it gives clear content on population commission, ideal family size, reproductive health education in schools and the freedom to use natural or artificial family planning methods.

The reproductive health bill is relevant in terms of assisting family planning programs to the people. It gives significant information on the methods of birth control, the appropriate number of children for every family, gender equality and reproductive health education. Also it includes the Commission on Population will serve as the government agency that complies with the issues on overpopulation and disseminating the information on family planning to local government sectors.

But there are parts in the RH bill that needs improvement in terms of content because other sectors will not conform on it. First, they encourage having two children as an ideal family size and there is no punitive action for those families having more than two children. In the contrary, overpopulation is one of the major problems in our country. There are ideas that there will be a law for ideal family size which the number of children is not more than eight and above. Hopefully, responsible parenting is the solution for this problem in a way that the parents should grow their children depends on their family size and capacity in terms of budget and spacing.

Second, the mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education where it can be taught to the students by adequately-trained teachers starting Grade five to fourth year high school. There is nothing new about it because it is already common in schools nationwide. However, we need to look forward on the possibilities that the family, especially the parents, will guide their children appropriately through proper teaching of reproductive health education. It is for the reason that children learn these things in school, neighbors and peers; sometimes, it can be learned through improper way which leads to indecent idea towards reproductive health.

Lastly, the bill promotes the freedom to choose between natural or artificial methods of family planning. But there are parts in the bill that advocates more on the use of artificial birth control methods such as surgical methods in public hospitals and the contraceptives such as condoms and pills are essential medicines. These methods are scientifically effective but the Church opposes the use of artificial birth control methods.

Therefore, the Church, the development nongovernment sector, and the government technocrats express their side in this social issue. It also reflects the pros and cons to be encountered if the bill will implement in the future. Hopefully, other people from different sectors of society will become aware in this issue and express their side if they agree or disagree in the RH Bill.

Source: "Belmonte to ask PNoy to certify RH Bill as urgent" by Amita Legaspi

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