Diverse Constructs on the Passing of the Reproductive Health Bill

Right now the Philippine Congress is debating on the issues confronting the Reproductive Health Bill sponsored by Albay representative Edcel Lagman. House Bill 5043, or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development which requires a mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education; the inclusion of  contraceptives in the purchase by state hospital of medicines and supplies; local governments’ employment of an adequate number of midwives or attendants for a ratio of one for every 150 deliveries per year; an emergency obstetric care maternal death review; and provision of mobile health care services.

 

The proposed law faces staunch opposition from Catholic Church groups and some 75 lawmakers in the House. 

 

Significance of the Bill

 

For those who are in favor of the passing of the bill on Reproductive Health consider the light of the following constructs as the factors for its passage.

 

High fertility rate and rapid population growth can be detrimental to the socio-economic development of the country.  There is a need to curve incidence of birth so as to peg the Philippine population to 86 million Filipinos for the sake of coping up with limited resources such as food, shelter, and basic social and health services.

 

It has been proven ever since on many studies that correlation between rapid population growth and poverty incidence do exist.  But advocates of population management however caution that poverty is actually an offshoot of bad governance and weak economic growth. It is only exacerbated by high fertility rate and rapid population growth.

 

Incidentally rapid population growth is the result of individual decisions. Combining all these individual decisions may result in rapid population growth which in turns affects investment in physical and human capital. It is expected that the government needs to spend a lot of funds on public and social services. Right now we have a problem on limited classrooms in our school system, a manifestation of poorly managed growth in the population. The absence of a population policy in the Philippines adds to the negative economic and development growth as indicative of low tax base and expenditure issues.   

The ultimate victims to overpopulation are the poor families who have more children than they can support. Data show in the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) that poverty incidence in families with nine or more children is pegged at 57 percent while it is only 10 percent to families with only one child.

 

Reasons for Killing the Bill

 

Contrary to the proponent and supporters of the bill, they want it “killed” the soonest so it will not prosper and be passed by Congress. Their negative view on the passage of the Bill is based on the following,

 

Life is sacred, human life and family values should be respected. There are those who believe that once the HB   812 Reproductive Health Care Act of 2003 once legislated will lead to anti-life laws such as euthanasia, abortion, two-child policy, and homosexuality.  Catholics are against the artificial method of birth control such as use of pills and condoms because clergies found it to be “abortificient” or tantamount to abortion. There is a need to protect the life of the unborn. Their constructs saddle primarily on promoting the sanctity of life and safeguarding the moral grounds of human existence. They believe that for as long as the family is still strong and the fundamental value of life is protected, there is no reason that families can not recover from the degrading conditions of poverty.

 

Unfortunately those who want to kill the Bill do not consider overpopulation as a problem. They may recognize economic problems, unity, good politics as essential but not high birth rate and high fertility rate. The population density is not even critical the way they look at 200 to 270 people per square kilometer. They contend that the Malthusian fear has been settled long ago and that it does not hold water anymore. There is no need to fear about scarcity of goods and resources since the society is already aided by technology and economic investments to survive.

 

It is in the context of belief of those who oppose the bill that the best form of birth regulation in both the Scriptures and reason is self-discipline. So why spend P2 billion in taxpayers’ money to buy contraceptives when all the couple should do is to practice self-discipline and natural method of birth control? Better this amount would go to education, livelihood and basic social services.

 

Some Critical Points to Consider

 

Population grows in geometric proportion while resources increase arithmetically. Population needs grows higher as the population increases in a manner that resources could hardly meet these needs. Our economy is not growing fast enough to draw resources needed by a growing population.

 

Likewise, there is also a danger of adopting the Western paradigm on ‘zero population growth’ as this will only lead to the irreversible scenario of a graying population that shall eventually “depletes their respective economies in heavy state subsidies.”

 

But it’s a fact also that our environment degenerates as a result of overpopulation and overproduction of goods to meet and sustain provision for population needs.

           

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15 Comments

Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Population Control, Religion, Reproductive Health, United Nations

15 responses to “Diverse Constructs on the Passing of the Reproductive Health Bill

  1. Parents need educating about family planning.

    Family planning should then be a personal choice.

    Also sex outside of marriage etc should be discouraged so as not to leave single parent kids etc.

    yes life is sacred thus before making the choice to conceive a child all these factors should be considered so that the child is not ‘Killed’.

  2. Mer Pints

    Sex Education and Family Planning subject in the secondary as well as tertiary schools should be handled by a well trained educator.

  3. nielsky

    P.S. to HB 5043 – reproductive health bill?

    It challenges reflection that a lawyer, instead of a doctor, is the chief architect and single strong advocate of House Bill 5043 which actually consolidated into one, House Bills 17, 812, 2753 and 3920 in this 14th Congress. The simple idea of gender equality easily permits room for women proponents themselves, in either House or Senate, to be the mouthpiece as well as the voice behind such a now controversial bill that is met with so much opposition from not few traditional groups – not Rep. Edcel Lagman – unless otherwise no other proponent from the female species is available. Women issues are the exclusive domain of women, or so I thought?

    Offhand, HB 5043 pretentiously placed reproductive health, responsible parenthood, and population development under its policy framework. Good. But, let us be reminded that a single legislative measure such as HB 5043 that carries more than three subject matters is actually violative of “overloading”. Bottomline, that is the way professors of law teaching on “How a Bill becomes a Law” always teach us. Where will HB 5043 all transport us to? Such a would-be law that prohibits and in fact penalizes any health care service provider who refuses to perform medically-safe reproductive health care services in the absence of spousal consent or authorization is revolting. What is this?

    Boldly, the bill claims the policy is anchored on the rationale of sustainable development with a manageable population of healthy, educated and productive citizens. Truly, this carries some kind of racist bias against those otherwise unhealthy, uneducated, and unproductive in our realpolitik. Is this Hitler’s idea of a “super race”? What about China with approximately two billion population that has managed equitably well without compromising its position as the next economic superpower? I say as anecdotal the sweet claim of a population management stratagem of a two-child policy. The proponent himself has more than two of his own, doesn’t he?

    If we have higher population than any developing country in the world, it is a blessing especially so that all developing countries, no exception, are now suffering from a graying population and are now in search of manpower to replace their aging manpower base. Where then do they have to import human capital? Where will they recruit the Industrial Reserve Army but from the Philippines? Have we as much as forget that OFW remittances of our fellow Filipinos buoys up an otherwise fledging economy? The next generation of overseas workers to fill the great demand of manpower from the global market has to be born now – beyond the two-child limit. This kind of thinking might run counter to the bill’s claim that manpower is the principal asset of every country.

    If there will be a universal access to quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information, this means that a whole range of options is at anybody’s disposal. Studies have already validated that reproductive health care as practiced in the more developed societies already negative impacted upon the home, family life, career, social milieu, culture, and society as a whole. It has been shown that women committed suicides. It has been shown that the incidence of broken families rose. It has been shown that children from broken homes are what triggered dramatic rise in the crime statistical chart. As divorces multiply, broken homes multiply just as well. Medically, a lot of these so-called contraceptive pills are not safe and just how many pills are manufactured in a minute and at what cost?

    Shotgun approach has been the design of HB 5043 – it will kill all birds that took flight – adults, adolescents, children – without distinction. It sounds crazy for the bill to claim that women seeking care from post-abortion complications shall be treated and consoled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner without being guilty of doing abortion in the unseen process. This kind of intended access opens the door wide to a lot of other possibilities in need of reproductive health care attention, not to be excluded, would be abortion itself at its initial stage. To give people the freedom to decide, if, when and how often to have a satisfying and safe sex life, as claimed, tears at the very moral fabric of our social existence.

    What then constitute as reproductive health-related problems that the bill aims to prevent and avoid, reason for a full range of options? Openly enough, the bill espouses making available all methods and techniques to prevent unwanted, unplanned, and mistimed pregnancies but what exactly are these? Pregnancies – whether or not wanted, planned, or timed – are pregnancies. Any act or means to be sought to prevent it should be called as what? It would not be abortion, would it? Whoever invented these labels without any scientific basis ought to be a murderer?

    It is noticeable how a proviso has been carried that would, in effect, expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Program or NHIP especially to many poor and marginalized women to include a full range of reproductive health care services and supplies as health insurance benefits. Will money be inserted in another else’s pocket? How much in State subsidies will be infused into a supposed-to-be existing program or agency, again and again?

    Rider or not to a proposed bill, the creation of a Board of Commissioners of POPCOM (or Population Commission) of 14 heads of agencies plus 3 representatives from the private sector ought to be the subject matter of another and separate bill yet to be proposed and filed in Congress considering that when a board meets, honoraria are given. At the very least, their appointment by the President for a term of 3 years means that some people get to be employed, first and second, time. Even the Department of Agriculture and the Commission on Higher Education will be members thereof make for Ripleys.

    Again, more midwives or skilled attendants need to be employed in every municipality or city based on some ideal ratio. More qualified personnel in each city or province will have to be employed in hospitals to provide emergency obstetric care, again, based on ideal ratio of say one such hospital for every 500,000 population. How good indeed that indigent patients will be covered by PhilHealth insurance benefits for hospital services related to family planning? Again, are we putting money in another else’s pocket?

    Another apparent caveat of the proposed HB 5043 is the fact that every congressional district will be provided a van for Mobile Health Care Service from their PDAF but it is not stated too clear if this means an additional budget to their PDAF. A mandatory health reproductive education will be required of those from Grade V to Fourth Year High School. Will parents agree to this law? Inserting 10% additional increase in the honoraria of barangay health workers is truly an inducement. Will not barangay captains or mayors agree to this scheme and its pecuniary benefits?

    From where I stand, readers of HB 5043 can read with caution the corpus of purely statistical data in the explanatory note of the bill from which it based its goal to erect a law that is always met with extreme opposition from those thought to become its beneficiaries as well as to its intended victims. In the end, adults, adolescents, and children that the bill purports to help will be the true victims of a law that is easy enough to approve given that it has “strings attached” to it. Not remotely, some laws really self-destruct as soon as they get implemented and this proposed measure shall be one of them. Since coins will be dropped in the vendo machine, many legislators might tend to stamp their own approval of HB 5043, irrespective of dictates of conscience – and so be it.

    (Email to: nielsky_2003@yahoo.com or text to: 09164985265)

  4. cocoy826

    I think it is outrageous that the Catholic church is giving opinions on Reproductive Health Bill from the pulpit and talking about those who support this bill not being able to take communion.

    The real issue is: Why Philippines need this Bill? Is it to improve the quality of life and escape poverty.Our people are poor because of a corrupt government.

    Of course the common perception is that population growth causes poverty, so reducing population should also reduce poverty. But the facts do not bear this out. Neither do basic economics.

    The idea that population growth causes poverty comes from the ubiquitous zero-sum-game fallacy: the idea that the economy is a pie with only so much to go around. But the economy is not a pie — economies can grow, and population growth can actually help development. A growing population means more labor, which along with land and capital are the main factors of production.

    no real correlation between population and poverty. If population were a determinant of poverty, it would be hard to explain places such as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands. All have high population densities and yet are wealthy. The United Kingdom has about three times the population density of Ghana, and eighty-one times the per capita GDP. There are many causes of poverty, but population is not one of them.

    Literally billions of dollars have been spent to reduce populations in developing countries, but have yielded no real economic progress. We know the factors that create economic growth and development: consistent rule of law for all citizens, property rights, sensible regulation, and a culture that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial behavior. These traits have never existed perfectly anywhere on earth, but the degree to which they have been present reflects the degree to which prosperity has been achieved. Conversely, where they remain absent — as in much of the developing world today — poverty and misery are found in their stead.

    Sexual morality of contraception and abortion on women view them as moral evils and a violation of their dignity.

    We are losings billion and billion of pesos in corruption.If any of personnel in the government are honest,our country has been prosper for long time.
    I don’t understand these people,they want to control the Filipino Human race,yet,they allowed foreigners to invade and live in our country.

  5. secondlady

    I understand your points gentlemen but it is a fact that a large family size in a system where the economy is barely surviving, we have no recourse but curve the incidence of birth and rapid population growth.

    High fertility rate and rapid population growth is only one among the so many problems that a nation shall address. There are political as well as economic issues to address too, but allowing the population to swell at the midst of these problems will only aggravate the situation.

    No amount of rhetorics could cover up the impending threats posed by rapid population growth. It is more disadvantageous in our part to waive the significance of managing the growth of our population at a level our systems of resources could deal. Unfortunately even with efficient and effective management of our economic resources and system of governance, there is no guarantee that we shall never experience the impact of population explosion if we allow the gate of fertility open. We are a young country and birth expectancy of a huge number of female population female at the fertility age is great.

  6. Mer Pints

    The primary concern of the Reproductive Health Bill is to safeguard the health of the woman from getting pregnant and giving birth frequently. Efficient population management comes second.

    Another construct on population dynamics is migration. People who get tired of living in the rural areas find their way to the urban centers. In effect they are adding up to the yearly growth of population in the urban centers.

    Part of efficient population management is the provision of livelihood projects and establishment of infra-structure projects such as farm to market roads, schools, commercial centers, and recreational facilities may deter the influx of rural dwellers to the urban centers. Likewise basic social services such as health, social welfare, and education shall be made visible and available in the rural areas.

  7. kidlatanvillage

    Segundina,
    This is KapitanKidlat on the admin.

    I think the real issue on the Reproductive Health Bill is population “growth” management. It is the worsening of the Philippine economy that calls for a unified action so as not to create a situation of widespread famine and social instability in the country should the Philippine population double in a few years time.
    I also believe that one significant factor to economic stability low fertility rate and low birthrate. Allowing a large segment of the birth capable Philippine population to increase our fertility level will only jeopardize whatever is left with our ecomic gains.
    As of now we have no problems on workforce because we have a very young population. Granting we shall mentain a zero growth rate, of our population, in twenty years time we still have sufficient workforce who are young and physically capable.
    Legislation adjusts to the need to times. If we come to a point that we have more older than younger people, then it’s time to change the law.

  8. cocoy826

    Reproductive Health Bill is the answer to eradicate poverty.It is maybe Yes and it maybe No.

    Since hunger is caused by the present social system, it would seem that it is not overpopulation which causes the crisis in our country. But this view is shortsighted. A reformed use and understanding of agriculture would make it possible for Philippines to feed its present population and even the expected population into the next century. But, eventually, Philippines will face a population crisis. Certainly population growth rate will make Philippines incapable of feeding her people in the best of circumstances.

    These population control programs simply don’t work. Moral preaching, sex education, available contraceptive measures and even force do little to reduce populations in very poor people. This is because poor people need lots of children. They need them for reasons:
    As workers in the farm fields. As old age insurance for parents who have no other security. Because in a life of low material gratification, raising children is among the few joys and delights one can have. Because they suffer high children mortality rates, poor people must have many children so that even half of them died enough will survive to one,two or three.

    Only economic development can effectively lower the birthrate, and that economic development–providing old age security, and some level of material comfort, almost invariably lead people to voluntarily limit birth rates. Such a rise in material standard is also accompanied by higher levels of education, which further contributes to voluntary birthrate limits.

  9. cocoy826

    Most of these poor people have no work, or work for pay which cannot come close to providing a living wage a one’s family. Because corruption structure agriculture, thousands pour into metropolis looking for work.

    Most of them have heard of a friend’s friend or an uncle’s cousin said to have found work in the City. But there are few jobs to be had, and the slums grow. These unemployed masses put increasing pressure on the already inadequate city infrastructure.

    The problems of unemployment and underemployment are caused in large measure by the lack of an adequate infrastructure and the domination of all wealth by the few. The political instability of the present moment does not help. Members of the wealthy elite and foreign investors are leery of investing since no one knows where this Arroyo government will move.

    However, millions and millions of dollars donated by foreign governments and charitable groups for infrastructure projects have been stolen by government officials. Cheating and corruption in dealing with these funds are widespread. Lastly, the economy is run for the benefit of the rich elite. There are too few just taxes to provide the needed income for the basic infrastructure which makes a decent life possible.

  10. cocoy826

    Yes,Living condition in the barrio is difficult. Has no fuel except wood. People cook with firewood and charcoal. This requires massive amounts of wood to provide fuel . Thus the demand on wood as a crop is the immediate cause of the denuding of the mountains

    The immediate motivation of much of the cutting trees is economic. Peasants are hungry. They have little available work. But wood is in constant demand as , or to sell to others to make money. Peasant wood-cutters who do understand the soil erosion problem will argue that they have no alternative. They either cut and sell wood or they starve. Mainly they are right. Probinsyano suffers massive unemployment and most peasants have inadequate access to farm lands.

    Because of the problems of illiteracy and lack of education wood cutters do not really understand the extent of damage their cutting does. They are contributing misery by cutting the few trees.But what alternatives of hunger or even starvation facing the wood sellers,

    There is little motivation for wood cutters to replant more trees. Mainly they do not own the land. They cut here or there as sharecroppers or renters, then move on to other lands. The land owners are often city people or more wealthy village folks and they do not keep a close watch on their lands. Were they to replant, it is likely that the neighbors’ animals would eat the seedling trees since there is little forage left.. Of course, it is in the interest of the nation as a whole to replant trees. But, no individuals who own, share-crop or rent lands are personally motivated to do this costly and troublesome, and non-economic work.

    Like my case,I always plant productive trees and people in my neighborhood just watch me.They don’t want to dig a circle hole in there backyard to plant santol.

  11. cocoy826

    My comment is getting long Secondlady.I wish I could continue more.Hehehe!

  12. secondlady

    Okay lang Manong Cocoy. I am waiting for some more comments. I hope the other reactors will come back for more comments and discussion.
    I am encouraging debate/discussions on this issue if you guys are interested. Thanks.

  13. kaiserfernandez

    Hi secondlady, just to comment on us having no recourse but curve the incidence of birth and rapid population growth when large family sizes in a system where the economy is barely surviving.

    I haven’t seen any argument better than how Julian Simon puts it. Google him up for his profile.

    “Idiots like Erlich and organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the State Department’s Agency for International Development and NFPRHA constantly sound nonsense warnings about how overpopulation produces disaster and poverty. There is absolutely no relationship between high populations, disaster and poverty.

    “Population control idiots might consider Zaire’s meager population density of 39 people per square mile to be ideal while Hong Kong’s population density of 247,501 people per square mile is problematic. Hong Kong is 6,000 times more crowded than Zaire. Yet Hong Kong’s per capita income is $8,260 while Zaire, the world’s poorest country, has a per capita income of less than $200.

    Planet Earth is loaded with room. We could put the world’s entire population into the United States. Doing so would make our population density 1,531 people per square mile. That’s a far lower population density than what now exists in New York (11,440), Los Angeles (9,126) and Houston (7,512). The entire U.S. population could move to Texas and each family of four would enjoy 2.9 acres of land. If the entire world’s population moved to Texas, California, Colorado and Alaska, each family of four would enjoy nine-tenths of an acre of land.

    So-called overpopulation problems are really a result of socialistic government practices that reduce the capacity of people to educate, clothe, house and feed themselves. “

  14. Secondlady wrote: “Population grows in geometric proportion while resources increase arithmetically.”

    Hello there. I don’t know where you learned this, but you are sadly misinformed. In the past 200 years, the worlds population may have increased sixfold, but production and availability of resources has increased EIGHTYFOLD! It is quite clear that available resources are not only keeping up with population growth, it actually outruns it!

    The so-called “reproductive health” bill (HB 5043) has NOTHING to do with free choice, since it FORCES employers, doctors, and health workers to dispense abortifacients and other contraceptives.

    Allow me to quote from a position paper against HB 5043 (PDF version at: http://www.phnix.net/Position_Paper_Against_HB_5043.pdf) (Online version at:
    http://mamador.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/a-position-paper-against-hb-5043/):

    Section 21 (e) of the proposed bill lists the following as a prohibited act: “Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.” This provision is overly broad and “disinformation” could (and most probably will) be construed as prohibiting the expression of objections to the Bill, such as what we are presently doing. This provision is is obviously going to be used to suppress dissent, and is an undue restriction of freedom of speech.[5] It has no place in any of the laws of a democratic nation.

    Section 17, on the other hand, mandates employers must provide such abortifacients and other contraceptives to employees. It states that, “All Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) shall provide for the free delivery by the employer of reasonable quantity of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers, more particularly women workers.” Employers, therefore, are not given any choice despite the fact that distribution of these abortifacients and contraceptives may be against their conscience.

    Section 21, number 5, requires doctors and health workers to dispense such abortifacients and other artificial contraceptive devices and methods. If they refuse to do so on religious grounds, they must still refer those who want to use such abortifacients to another person who will dispense them. Conscientious objectors are thereby required to cooperate in such acts, and if they refuse, they are slapped penalties ranging from one to six months imprisonment and a fine of P10,000-P50,000! HB 5043 eliminates any choice for conscientious objectors and makes no room for their legitimate concerns.

    This bill is all about COERCION and making money for contraceptive manufacturers.

    HB 5043 has NOTHING to do with health either. if it did, then it would have provided funding and institutional support for basic health care, which will prevent over 90% of maternal deaths. But this bill doesn’t even do that. Instead, its focus is on FORCING doctors, health workers, and employers to dispense abortifacients and other contraceptives.

    This same flaw has been noted in “An International Open Letter in Response to the 14 Signatories of the Ateneo Statement:” (http://monkshobbit.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/an-open-letter-in-response-to-the-14-signatories-of-the-ateneo-statement/), which said:

    Sections 6 and 7 of the Bill, which provide the only concrete health care and services to prevent or eliminate maternal mortality, are not mandatory, and the bill earmarks neither institutional support systems nor finances for their implementation. The POPCOM, which is established in Section 5 to implement and oversee the commitments outlined in the bill, has nine specific areas related to reproductive health and reproductive health services, yet no explicit mention of any responsibility in the area of maternal and ObGyn care. This most important section of the bill – and the only section actually consistent with Catholic social teaching – has been entirely neglected in the allocation of responsibilities to the agency established to oversee its implementation.

    HB 5043 is very deceptive indeed. We should see though it and dump it along with the trapo politicians who authored it!

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