After more than one year of interpellation and debates, the House of Representatives will decide on the future of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill on Tuesday, August 7, and vote whether or not this measure (the debates) should continue.
The Reproductive Health Bill, or Responsible Parenthood Bill, is a bill that aims to uphold and promote “responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights and human rights standards,” and “guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.”
Proponents of the RH Bill, which include Senator Pia Cayetano and Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, believe Filipinos need a comprehensive reproductive healthcare program because of the alarming increase in maternal death rates which is often blamed on the lack of reliable health care services in the country. Another compelling reason to pass the RH Bill, according to its supporters, is overpopulation which is often the result of poor families not having access to effective family planning methods.
On the other hand, critics of the RH Bill believe that this is a sly way of legalizing abortion and allowing promiscuity. The Catholic Church, which only promotes the natural method of family planning, is its most resolute supporter.
Only 145 votes are needed to secure a majority out of the 285 Representatives of the House. If the votes to continue the debates win, it will be a victory for the anti-RH groups, as it will mean a delay to the process – and possible junking – of the Bill. Meanwhile, voting to end the debates will mean progressing towards the period of amendments, which is good news for its supporters. The votation on August 7 will not determine the passing of the Bill per se.
In his State of the Nation Address last July 23, President Benigno Aquino III, indirectly “endorsed” the passage of the bill by saying, “We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains are our student population continues to increase. Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this," drawing a loud applause from the audience.
Earlier this week, eight members of the Opposition, including Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, took a stand on the issue and withdrew support from the RH Bill.
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