Gabriela Pushes for Enactment of Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill

Mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education — age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system starting from Grade 5 up to 4th year high school using life-skills and other approaches.

Employer’s responsibilities — the Department of Labor and Employment shall ensure that employees respect the reproductive rights of workers consistent with the intent of Article 134 of the Labor Code.

Pro bono services for indigent women — private and non-government reproductive health care service providers, including but not limited to gynecologists and obstetricians, are mandated to provide at least 48 hours annually of reproductive health services free of charge to indigent and low income patients, especially to pregnant adolescents.

Sexual and reproductive health programs for persons with disabilities — the cities and municipalities must ensure that barriers to reproductive health services for persons with disabilities are obliterated.

Right to reproductive health care information — the government shall guarantee the right of any person to provide or receive non-fraudulent information about the availability of reproductive health care services, including family planning, and prenatal care.

The Situation of Women

According to Gabriela, women have their right to avail of social services. GWP’s RH Bill, if passed, will give women full access to health care services.

The primary beneficiaries of the bill are indigent women. “Women in the marginalized sectors are the beneficiaries of this bill because they are the most affected and most neglected by the government. The big number of maternity deaths belong to the marginalized sector,” GWP Representative Emmi de Jesus said.

GWP Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (left) said the HB 4244 was filed with the awareness that population growth was never the culprit and thus, population control is never a solution to poverty. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil /

GWP’s data shows that there is one death every two hours due to complications during pregnancy. Eleven women are dying everyday.

“This is where we are coming from. These deaths are preventable. Because women cannot even avail and the government does not provide basic health services, this bill gives priority to women’s reproductive health,” De Jesus said.

She added that at present the government prioritizes debt servicing. The government allocated budget on health for this year $897 million (P38.6 billion) from last year’s $930 million (P40 billion) reduced by $32 million (P1.4 billion).

Citing the latest Family Income and Expenditures Survey, De Jesus said a poor family only allocates 1.7 percent of their budget on health because they prioritize their budget on food (59.9 percent), housing (9.4 percent), and utilities (6.8 percent).

“Suppose a family earns $9.3 a day, they will spend $1.8 on health, $5.5 on food, $0.6 on utilities, and $0.9 on housing,” De Jesus said.

While poor families give less priority to their health, the government on the other hand, does not give appropriate basic social services. The Public-Private Partnership program of the government makes their situation worse as public hospitals are being privatized.

GWP Rep. Ilagan stressed that the state has the responsibility to guarantee “universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services” stressing as well on the need to “prioritize women and children, among other unprivileged sectors.”

Gabriela secretary-general Lana Linaban said it is another milestone for the Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill to be included in the provisions of HB 4244. “We are pleased that the important provisions of the Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill were included in the HB 4244.”

On March 1, members of Gabriela trooped to Congress to attend the scheduled debates on the RH bill. It was canceled though due to the malfunctioning of air conditioning units inside the plenary hall.

However, Linaban said that the struggle is just beginning. “We should face the challenge to continue the struggle to achieve a genuine reproductive health bill that will give basic social services to the underserved,” she said. (

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