PCW to lawmakers: Vote “yes”, end debates, and pass RH bill

The House of Representatives is set to decide on the fate of the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development Act (HB 4244) on August 7. After more than a decade since the first reproductive health (RH) bill was filed, the country is now closer to a vote.

“We urge our lawmakers to represent the views of majority of the Filipino women who clamor for information and services on family planning and how to become more responsible parents,” Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa said.

A survey by the Social Weather Stations (2nd quarter 2011) showed that 82% of Filipinos say family planning method is a “sacred” personal choice; 73% want information on legal methods available from government.

The 2011 Family Health Survey showed an “alarming” maternal mortality ratio of 221 per 100,000 lives births, higher than the last official figure of 162.

Verzosa urged the Congress to vote “yes” on ending the interpellation period, move forward with the amendments and the eventual passage of the RH Bill. “If there is no quorum on Tuesday or if the “no” votes win, then the bill dies. We cannot let that happen,” Verzosa said.

The Philippine government cannot waiver on its efforts to promote and protect the rights of women and men to accessible health services. “We cannot just let poor mothers die due to pregnancy and child birth complications.” Verzosa said. She added that provision of age-appropriate sexuality education is needed to curb the steady increase in teenage pregnancies.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, there are 53 births per 1,000 women aged between 15-19. Furthermore, the 2011 Family Health Survey showed that teenage fertility has increased to 10% in 2011 from 6% in 2006.

“We call upon all RH advocates to flock to Batasan on August 7 to show our mighty support for the RH bill,” Verzosa said.