Bataan barangays’ local RH ordinance is dangerous—GABRIELA

28 March 2011

MANILA — Women’s group GABRIELA slams the enactment of an ordinance in seven barangays of Bataan that prohibits sale of contraceptives and allows only Catholic Church approved “natural” family planning methods, calling it “dangerous and ridiculous.”

“The ordinance is dangerous. It will have devastating effects on Filipino women’s already deteriorating maternal and reproductive health. With ordinances such as the ones enacted in Bataan, women, especially from the marginalized sectors, are hindered access to medically-safe and effective reproductive health services, devices and supplies,” said Joms Salvador, GABRIELA deputy secretary general.

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“At this age and time it is ridiculous for the government to prohibit sale of contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription. Contraceptives like condoms and pills are over-the-counter items. Contraceptives are in fact in the list of World Health Organization (WHO)’s essential medicines,” added Salvador.

“The local ordinance, which is a copy of the Ayala Alabang ordinance on reproductive health, is a setback to women’s fight for access to reproductive health information and service,” added Salvador.

The group adds that the ordinance is unconstitutional as it prevents an individual from access to reproductive health information and family planning methods. Reproductive health, the group stresses, is a basic human right that the state should guarantee and protect.

According to the Bataan barangay captains, their decision to enact the said ordinance is to prevent “extinction” of their population.

“We believe that the retrogressive local ordinance was primarily crafted to challenge the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill being pushed in Congress. We should put an end to the misinformation peddled shamelessly by groups that are against the legislation of a reproductive health law in the country, It is erroneous to think that the RH Bill will lead to the “extinction” of population. In fact, it should not be treated as a measure for population control at all,” said Salvador.

“GABRIELA stands firm that the RH Bill should not be crafted around a population control framework which relies on the myth that population is the main cause of poverty and thus burdens women to control her pregnancy. We enjoin everyone to push for an RH Bill that is comprehensive and promotes women’s right to access to information and scientific, safe and affordable reproductive health and service,” said Salvador.

“Instead of compelling people into “misinformed” decisions through coercive local ordinances, we challenge the government to work fast to allow the passage of a comprehensive RH Bill now,” said Salvador.###

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