Beyond Contraception and Population Control: RH Bill is an Urgent Pro-Poor, Pro-Women Measure (PR)

04 October 2010

“Let the debates, dialogues and consultations on the Reproductive Health Bill as well as on the methods of fertility planning and contraception focus on the needs of the impoverished majority.”

Thus said GABRIELA Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan following the heated exchange of statements between the Catholic Church and the Aquino government on the Reproductive Health Bill.

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Ilagan who co-authors the HB 3387 The Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill with fellow Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus said, “The reproductive health bill discusses more than the methods of fertility planning and contraception. It is beyond the issue of population control. To reduce this measure to a debate that focuses only on artificial versus natural methods of contraception is a myopic approach to the issue.”

The Gabriela solon explains that HB 3387 focuses on making reproductive health care services accessible to the poor as well as granting privileges to women workers to ensure their reproductive health. Some of the bill’s provisions include the following:

Giving pro-bono reproductive health care services for indigent women by making it mandatory for all health care workers to provide at least 200 hours annually of reproductive health services free of charge to indigent patients, especially pregnant adolescents.

Pregnant working employees should be given paid half-day prenatal medical leaves for each month of the pregnancy period.

Proper protection of women workers handling or working with chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm must be ensured.

Ilagan further explains that the proposed bill also seeks to uplift and improve the equipment available in public health care facilities, including the barangay health centers to ensure that they are able to conduct basic reproductive health care procedures such as pap smears.

The Gabriela solon is confident that there are several provisions in the bill that both the church and the state will agree on. “The Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill is a pro-poor, pro-women measure. A government and a church that are genuinely pro-poor can agree on several provisions once deliberations begin. A truthful assessment of the situation of Filipino women and healthcare in this country will lead to the realization of the urgent need for this measure. Gabriela Women’s Party calls on President Aquino to certify the Reproductive Health Bill as urgent”.

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