Progressive Partylists in the Philippines support Reproductive Health Bill

Anonyme, Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 21:18

PLM, Akbayan & PM

Around a hundred members of the PM, Akbayan and PLM joined officials of government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) in a press conference that called on President Benigno C. Aquino III to include the RH bill among government’s priority measures.

PLM-Women Statement on the Reproductive Health Bill

By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)

A. Why the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) supports the “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development Act of 2011”

The Partido Lakas ng Masa stands for the promotion and advancement of women and children’s health and the reproductive health and rights of women.

“The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development Act of 2011”, contains important legislative measures, to advance and promote women’s health and reproductive rights. This Act, if passed, will especially benefit poor women who have to suffer the consequences of unintended pregnancies, birth-related maternal deaths,miscarriages and unsafe and dangerous abortion.

* 54% of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended,
* In 2008, there were 1.9 million unintended pregnancies,
* 560,000 of these pregnancies ended in induced abortions,
* 90,000 women were hospitalized because of abortion complications.
* 1000 died from abortion complications,
* 1,600 more died from births and miscarriages related to unwanted pregnancies,
* Poor women and families have least access to family planning services,
* 54% of women who do not use any method or form of contraception are poor.[1]

B. What is “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development Act of 2011”?

Under the Act:

* Modern family planning methods will be provided in all accredited health facilities,

* For poor women this will be free and fully subsidized by PhilHealth and government financial assistance;

* Family planning supplies and products shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all hospitals;

* LGUs will provide poor families preferential access to family planning services;

* The number of midwives and skilled attendance will be increased to achieve a minimum ratio of 1 full-time birth attendant for every 150 deliveries per year;

* Emergency obstetric care will be upgraded and access improved for the poor improved,

* Mobile Health Care Services will be improved and each congressional district will be provided with at least one Mobile Health Care Service van;

* Reproductive health and sex education, including gender and development and responsible relationships and parenthood topics, will be taught in schools, by trained teachers through appropriate curricula, from Grade 5 to Fourth Year;

* Employers must respect the reproductive rights of the workforce and will provide paid, half-day, prenatal medical leave for each month of pregnancy of women workers;

* Every individual’s right to information on the availability of reproductive health services, including family planning and pre-natal care, will be guaranteed by the government.

* Greater investment and prioritization of family planning and reproductive health services through anti-poverty programs.

C. The Act can save poor women and children’s lives If the Act is passed and implemented it will save lives. If all women use modern contraceptive methods, for example, it will:

* Reduce maternal death by 2,100 every year;
* There will be 800,000 less unplanned births;
* There will be 500,000 less induced abortions;
* There will be 200,000 less miscarriages.

This is why the Partido Lakas ng Masa supports the “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development Act of 2011”.

We call on our members to join the campaign to support the Act, to organize activities to inform and educate the communities and the barangay councils, and to join the mobilizations organized by RHAN and other women’s networks, to support the passing of the legislation in the Congress and the Senate. The facts show that this is the truly moral and the correct thing to do.

Akbayan distributes free condoms on Valentine's Day

By AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party)

In an effort to raise awareness on reproductive health rights and further secure public support for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, members of Akbayan Party gave away free condoms to the public coinciding with this year's celebration of Valentine's Day.

In a statement, Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao said her group is continuing an initiative set by the Department of Health (DoH) under then Secretary Esperanza Cabral, when it distributed condoms on Valentine's day last year as part of its campaign to curb the increasing HIV/AIDS cases in the country and to highlight its support for the proposed law on reproductive health.

"Love yourself. Love your partner. Love your family. Be safe. This is the message we want to convey to the public. The campaign to push for the passage of the RH bill is not only about securing and protecting our rights, it is also fundamentally about love," Bag-ao said.

"Kung mahal mo ang iyong pamilya o ang iyong karelasyon, importante ang pagkakaroon ng pinakamalawak na opsyon sa pagpaplano ng pamilya at kagyat na proteksyon sa mga sexually transmitted diseases," Bag-ao said.

Bag-ao also expressed disappointment with the decision of the current headship of the health department not to distribute condoms this yearwhich she said stemmed from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines's (CBCP) strong pressure for the department to abandon the condom-giving initiative.

"This is not just your usual everyday activity that you can easily defer. We are talking here of saving lives. We are talking of protecting our people. Kung ayaw nila gampanan ang kanilang trabaho sa publiko, kami na lang ang gagawa nito. Hence, it is incumbent on all RH advocatesto continue with this effort," Bag-ao said.

It was reported that a total of 174 new HIV cases were confirmed last December, the highest reported in a month since 1984. The DoH said a total of 1,591 positive cases were documented from January to December last year.

Bag-ao also disapproved of the statements issued by Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission. Castro said the distribution of condom would only send the wrong signal to the public especially among the youth that it is alright to engage in early sexual intercourse as long as it is safe and protected.

"With all due respect to Fr. Castro, but I think he is grossly misinformed of the sexual behavior of our people. Even without condom distribution, the people are having sex. There is so much information about sex, but the organized dissemination of correct information is lacking. The policy does not promote sex; it promotes informed choices and decisions. The message we want to convey to the public is for them to protect themselves and be responsible," Bag-ao argued.

Meanwhile, former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said the Church's assertion that condom distribution would lead to a rise in the number of HIV/AIDS -infected individuals is "absurd."

"It is precisely because of the lack of a comprehensive pro-active state measure that locates HIV/AIDS and other STDs in the broader context of sexual and reproductive health that HIV/AIDS cases increased. This is exactly why we need a comprehensive reproductive health education package, as stipulated in the RH bill," Hontiveros said.

Akbayan said that instead of calling for "civil disobedience" against the RH Bill, it would be better for the Catholic church hierarchy to rally the people to the cause of providing the public with the widest array of options, and spreading the correct information about sexuality and reproductive health.

"It is the Filipino people's right to make informed choices, and to have a healthy life.To oppose this using, if not abusing the right to civil disobedience is a disservice to the public. As such, we urge the Filipino people to demand the government to ensure that each and every citizen has access to information and material supplies that will protect these rights," Hontiveros concluded.


PM joins womens’ groups in pushing House to approve RH bill

By Partido ng Manggagawa (PM - Workers Party)

Women members of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) in a big demonstration at the House of Representatives to push Committee on Appropriations to finally approve the budget provisions of the RH bill. Once approved, plenary deliberations of the bill will commence.

More than a thousand women, including hundreds of women workers, gathered at the South gate of the lower house from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon carrying placards and streamers with slogans calling for immediate passage of the RH bill.

PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda called on the Committee to quit stalling on the bill, “Every day of delay in the RH bill passage, eleven (11) poor working women are dying from pregnancy and birth delivery complications. It is time to put a stop to this continued ‘daily slaughter’ of women? With the passage of the RH bill, we can avoid losing 4,015 precious women’s lives per year! It has been more than a decade, almost 12 years now, with the daily average, 48,180 women’s lives could have been saved!”

Particularly for workers, Miranda explained that, “It is not true that the RH bill is purely a family planning bill. Those saying so are not being truthful. In addition to Article 134 of the Labor Code wherein employers shall provide reproductive health services to all employees, the RH bill mandates that employers shall furnish in writing the following information to all employees and applicants:

‘(a) The medical and health benefits which workers are entitled to, including maternity and paternity leave benefits and the availability of family planning services,

‘(b) The reproductive health hazards associated with work, including hazards that may affect their reproductive functions especially pregnant women, and

‘(c) The availability of health facilities for workers."

In addition, Miranda further explained that employers are likewise obliged to monitor pregnant working employees and provide them with paid half-day leaves for each month of the pregnancy period during their employment, reimbursable to either the Social Security System (SSS) or the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

“These pro-worker provisions of the bill support the ‘SAFETY FIRST’ maxim in the workplace. Workers’ lives, especially women’s, are spared from pregnancy complications and work hazards,” according to Miranda. “Again, we call on our legislators to quit delaying the bill and the Catholic Church to quit confusing the people and blackmailing government officials. Kung totoong pro-life kayo, you should support the RH bill – the RH bill will save women’s lives.”

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