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Ten facts about the RH Bill

Last year, I sponsored Senate Bill No.2865, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health Bill. It went through the process – we had hearings, then we made our committee report , which embodies SB 2865. Since then, there have been many questions raised by the public and rightly so, given that intelligent debate and discourse are essential in crafting the best version of any bill.

Senator Bongbong Marcos and I (inset) presiding on one of our committee hearings on the RH bill

In fact, it took almost a year before the RH Bill hurdled the interpellation period (debates where I answered questions posed by my colleagues) at the Senate, where every provision was explained, rehashed, and clarified until it was blue in the face. I am not exaggerating.  Finally, the bill has moved on to the period of amendments during which the Senate can incorporate changes to further improve the measure.

My co-sponsor Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and I defending the RH bill on the Senate floor

However, it is unfortunate that intelligent discussion is overlooked, sometimes even abandoned altogether by those who mean to distort the meaning and purpose of the bill. Many people are misled by these ill-informed notions. They pass judgment on the RH bill based on misinformation. Don’t take it from the grapevine and learn the facts before taking a stand. Here’s the real deal about the Senate RH Bill.

 

FACT 1: #RHBill gives a person freedom to choose what family planning method to use, or NOT to use any method at all.

Once and for all, if you do not want to use any family planning method, if you choose to use an artificial mode of family planning or natural family planning, that choice is yours and yours alone. This is made very clear in the following section of SB 2865.

 

FACT 2: #RHBill does not legalize abortion. In fact, it explicitly adheres to the penal law on abortion. 

As I repeatedly explained during the debates, the provision below is meant to ensure that every woman, like every Filipino, deserves optimal health care which includes compassionate care.

In fact, during one of our debates on the Senate floor in September last year, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, who is vehemently opposed to the RH bill, conceded and even agreed with my position that women with post-abortion complications seeking emergency attention in any medical facility should not be treated like criminals. Instead, they must be treated humanely and given compassionate medical care, which is precisely what Section 3 (i) calls for. For more details on that discussion, click on link here: ‘RH Bill won’t legalize abortion’ on my official website.

Sen. Pia Cayetano [explaining Sec.3 (i) and (j) to Sen. Sotto] : ‘It shocks me that there are people who believe that women who have gone through an abortion need to be treated like criminals because they have committed an act which is defined as a crime in our country.’

‘…In fact in many hospitals they are treated badly, they are pushed around to the side. In fact, some of them will bleed to death because they will not even be attended to, to punish them for that crime. And I will fight for the right of this woman to have the care that she needs because the emotional, psychological trauma that goes through to have an abortion is something that we, who have not been through an abortion, can never understand and she deserves that from the State.”

Sen. Vicente Sotto III [agreeing with Sen. Pia's remark]: ‘Yes, Mr. President, I do agree. As a matter of fact, I will be by the Sponsor’s side in defending that woman.’

Sen. Pia Cayetano : ‘Then we have no problem.’

Source: RH plenary debates (September 5, 2011)

 

FACT 3:  #RHBill does not impose an ideal family size and leaves this decision to couples.

The provisions quoted below is self-explanatory and puts to rest any misconception there may be on this matter.

 

FACT 4: #RHBill respects the religious convictions and cultural beliefs of all. 

I am aware that certain religious groups are anti-RH. I respect their position. But I cannot adopt their position because it would be depriving other Filipinos who have other views on reproductive health and on the reproductive health care and services that they need and want. As I said in my sponsorship speech, it is my job as a duly elected public official to represent every Filipino, not just one religion. Having said that, I repeatedly clarify that those who do not want to use contraceptives are not being forced to. Each person is at liberty to decide for his or herself.

 

FACT 5: #RHBill will not teach a 10-year-old how to use condoms. RH education is age- and development- appropriate. 

Time and again, sex education has been taken out of context. As I explained in my sponsorship speech, sex education shall be age-appropriate. It includes a child using the proper name for their body parts. It includes understanding the biological function of their bodies, such that they know that babies grow in mommy’s tummy and do not come out of bamboo trees.

 

FACT 6: #RHBill promotes BOTH natural & artificial methods.

Again, there is so much disinformation spreading that only artificial family planning shall be promoted under the RH bill. This is false.

 

 

FACT 7:  Contraceptives are safe and effective family planning tools 

Anti-RH advocates repeatedly raise the issue on the safety and effectiveness of contraceptives. That is a  valid concern. But like any medicine or medical device, all contraceptives  shall be approved by a government authority, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). And like medicines, there will be respect for choices. Couples must decide what is best for them with the advice of their health care provider. Clearly, vasectomy or ligation will not work for a young couple who may want to have more children in the future. On the other hand, some women prefer to use the pill or the IUD. These choices are personal ones. Contraceptives is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

 

FACT  8: #RHBill will not indiscriminately distribute condoms to all.

During the Senate RH debates in October last year, Sen. Ralph Recto repeatedly stated that “Parang nagtutulak tayo ng contraceptives!” (It’s like the government will be ‘pushing’ or peddling contraceptives) in connection with the bill’s principle of “universal access” to reproductive health care services (Section 2) and the provision mandating mobile health care services (Section 12).

In response, I explained that reproductive health care is not all about contraceptives, but addresses real and unmet needs of women and families.  The need for a mobile health vehicle in particular is important to reach far-flung areas where health care is inaccessible. These  services may not only save a mother’s life, but will help couples plan the number and spacing of their children. I clarified that minors and the youth also have RH needs, which we should address primarily through age-appropriate RH education and counseling. But we should also not turn a blind eye to the alarming problems of teenage pregnancy (we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Southeast Asia) and  numerous cases of young children being sexually abused, sometimes by members of their own family. These are real issues which we should not trivialize by irresponsible statements that the government would freely give away contraceptives to the youth under the RH bill.  As I emphasized on the floor, the mobile health care unit is not a ‘contraceptive ice cream truck.’

For more details, see the highlights of floor debates between Sen. Recto and myself , ‘RH debate highlights: October 5, 2011′ on my official website.

 

FACT 9: An average of 11 mothers die daily. That’s a fact.

During the Senate debates, Sen. Sotto kept questioning official figures on our Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). He claimed that the figure of ’11 mothers dying per day’ had no basis, and was merely being exaggerated in media reports.

“Eh alam naman natin siyempre kung papaano dalhin kasi ng media iyong ’11 mothers die a day.’  Eh, hindi, eh..  This cannot be accurate.. So, may I ask the Committee to furnish the Senate a copy of how this survey was derived at.. If they can furnish us, I will try to urge 13 Senators to vote for this bill tomorrow on third reading…”  – Sen. Vicente Sotto III, Senate RH debates (Aug. 22, 2011)

I explained that the figure is an average generated from data provided by official  sources, such as the United Nations (UN), the National Statistics Office (NSO) and the National Statistics and Coordination Board (NCSB). I also provided my colleagues with a copy of how this number was derived, as illustrated on the table below:

  •  Notes: 
  • Column D calculated by dividing Column B by 1000 and multiplying result with Column C.
  • Column F calculated by dividing Column D by 100,000 and multiplying result with Column E. 

 

 

So ngayong meron naman  po tayong naibigay na paliwanag, pwede na ba natin asahan si Sen Sotto to call on the majority of senators to act on the RH BILL?

But regardless of whether there’s just one woman or 11 women dying daily, the fact remains that mothers are dying from a highly-preventable cause.  If there were only 10 women or 3 women dying, is that one life not worth saving? Who are we to deprive them of access to information and supplies that can possibly save their lives?


FACT 10: #RHBill will not force anyone to act against their ethical or religious beliefs.

Anti-RH advocates often state that people are being forced to adopt a certain type of family planning method. Or that health care providers will be forced to recommend certain kinds. Fact 1 above already clarifies that each person is free to make their own choice of family planning method. Sec 18 below further provides that a heath care provider can make a conscientious objection.

24 comments to Ten facts about the RH Bill

  • I hope magkaron ng Filipino version nitong blog entry na ito para mas maging accessible for mass reading. =))

  • Camille A

    Bravo! #RHBill all the way!

  • Mina Tenorio

    Hola, Sen. Pia!

    Kahit po ako, hindi ko na alam kung paano pa ipaliliwanag ang totoong nilalaman ng RH Bill. Mataas naman po ang functional literacy rate dito sa Pilipinas. Patunay po nito ay ang mga kababaihan, kalalakihan at kabataang taga-maralitang komunidad na pati prosesong lehistibo ay naunawaan na dahil na rin sa tagal ng panahong nakikibaka para maipasa ang RH Bill. Kaya nga hindi na nakapagtataka ang pagtaas sa mahigit 70 porsiyento ng mga Pilipino na sumasang-ayon sa pagpasa ng RH Bill. Sadyang naipaliwanag nang mabuti at naunawaan naman namin ang nilalaman ng RH Bill.

    Hindi ko na maintindihan kung bakit may ilan pa ring nagpipilit ng kanilang interpretasyon. Kahit ang kasabihang “to see is to believe” ay nabalewala na rin po. Sa panahong ito ng mataas na teknolohiya, hindi lamang nasusulat ang nilalaman ng RH Bill at mga paliwanag ukol dito. Maliban sa Senate Journals na nakikita sa Senate website, naka-poste rin sa YouTube ang mga video ng Senate RH Debates kahit ang mga panayam sa inyo ni Sen. Miriam gayundin ang mga fora kung saan kayo ay nahilingang magsalita. Hindi ko na po isinama ang nasusulat sa mga pahayagan.

    Hindi rin naman kayo nagkulang ni Sen. Miriam na magpaliwanag ukol sa samu’t saring isyung RH sa inyong sariling website at blogsite. Napaka-tiyaga at napaka-haba pa ng inyong pasensiya sa pagpapaliwanag.

    Kung kaya’t naisip ko na baka nga po sadyang totoo ang sabi ng aking Lola: “Mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulug-tulugan.” Kung ganoon nga po talaga, baka mas makabubuti para sa bayan at mga Pilipino na huwag na silang dumilat.

    Muli, maraming salamat sa inyong paninindigan para sa kapakanan ng ating kababayan lalo na ng maralitang kababaihan sampu ng kanilang pamilya.

    Hanggang sa muli…

  • shony sanusi

    lalo po ako na linawagan about sa RH bill, sana mabasa ito ng mga friend ko sa fb na lalo na ung anti RH bill, ng matauhan sila.

  • Grace

    I also firmly believe ma’am that the RH bill should be passed. As a medical student once and now an obstetrician, I’ve seen a lot of our Filipino women continue to get pregnant or proceed with unsafe induced abortion (for an unwanted pregnancy) because of poor understanding and lack of knowledge regarding reproductive health. These are the things that the other people have not seen or personally experienced and they still think the RH bill is all about corruption and immorality. I do hope and pray they will be enlightened.

    I would just like to bring up a concern of one doctor who is against the RH bill. He thinks he will be forced against his own belief and will if he will not refer the patient to another healthcare provider with the provision of the penalties by the bill (Sec. 29). Could you comment on this mam? I admire and commend your continued efforts to fight for women’s health and well as their children. Thank you mam.

  • Steve R

    Bravo, Senator!
    I couldn’t help but feel that the officials that are opposing the RH bill are only doing this out of fear that the Catholic bishops will tell their massive queue of church goers not to vote for them in the future elections. Although this may be partly true I hope these officials understand that since we elected all of you in the office it is your duty to uphold what will be beneficial for us. And oh in case they didn’t notice 1) not everyone is Catholic 2) not all Catholics are anti-RH.

    Senator Pia, thank you for standing up for all Filipino women.
    I understand that it isn’t easy but please believe that there are still a great number of “thinking Filipinos” out there who will support RH bill.
    We will be with you. Our prayers are with you.

    MABUHAY RH BILL! PANAHON NA PARA SA PAGBABAGO!

  • Kate

    Great read!
    I support RHBill all the way!
    I hope this would enlighten people who are against it. I think they don’t really know what the RHBill is all about.

  • nikki

    This explained a lot about the bill. Hopefully the people who oppose this bill, those who went to the rally in Ortigas, saw the street kids and the mothers who use their babies for alms.

  • Jenny

    Senator Pia, Salamat po sa article na ito and I hope na mabasa ito nang ating mga kababayan pra sila ay maging informed at tumigil na sila sa kanilang mga baseless accusations.

  • I am a Catholic

    I laud the efforts of Sen. Pia. Let us continue to support her in her efforts to have the RH bill become a law. I am appalled at the way the Roman Church (to which I woefully belong) spreads lies about the bill, whence they have not read the entire bill at all. And I am all the more appalled at the way they keep their flock in the dark by dictating to the people what they should or should not do. And they call it “guidance”. I think they should look into the definition of “guidance” in the dictionary.

    These men of the cloth think they know it all. How can they claim to know about women when they have not experienced what a woman experiences during pregnancy and childbirth? They speak of theories (which is everything they learned in theology… everything there is intangible) but not of experiences. They should listen to the women who will benefit from this bill!

    I stay inside this Church with the hope that I can work from the inside to help bring change. I am not alone in this task. I am one with the many well-meaning Catholics who believe that the RH bill should become law so that women and families (and the nation) would benefit from it, and they, too, are one in the call for reform within the Church.

    We are praying for Sen. Pia, and all the senators and congressmen who will vote for the RH bill. Mabuhay kayong lahat, mga maginoong lumalaban para sa kapakanan ng mga kababaihan, kabataan at ng bansa! Pagpalain kayo ng Diyos!

  • Ann

    This gets the fact straight. Read first before you complain all ye! Thank you for this information. I support RH Bill.

  • Jake

    I have an inaanak sa kasal na me 2 ng anak carpenter lang yung padre de pamilya nagbuntis ang babae for the 3rd time the baby died pagka anak palang nya because of poor nourishment ng mother then she got pregnant again for the 4th time the baby died again and the life of the mother was in vain also , you see couples should know their capacities as parents kasi nasasakripisyo ang mga bata, ni hindi mapag aral ng elementary ang mga bata , papaluin, hindi mapakain ng maayos marami sa Pilipino ganito. Support ng government, community at ng pamilya para wala ng buhay na masakripisyo free namang makakapili ang bawat mag-asawa kung ano ang dapat sa kanila.

  • Harry

    It’s a shame how some people choose to see RH Bill in a different manner. Buti na nga lang we have legislators like you, Senator Pia, who will fight for our rights, lalo na yung mga marginalized and oppressed. I’m rallying behind you and the bill. Mabuhay ka!

  • Joinie A. Verdeflor

    I now fully understood the best intention of RH Bill. I’m going YES to it!

  • Gwen Umali

    Pwede po kayang makapag-publish sila ng actual copy of the bill? Para mas maintindihan ng mga mamamayan at hinde iilang parte lamang, sapagkat napakaraming bersyon ng bill na ito. Iisa lang naman ang pakay nating lahat at yun ay ang ikabubuti para sa lahat.

  • Hannah Drazen

    Marunong nga po magbasa ang marami ang kaso hindi naman po nila babasahin dahil nadecide na nila na ayaw po nila…nakakagigil nga po na kapag may na report na fetus na napulot kung saan, heto po ang tunay na aborsyon, hindi natin naririnig si Padre Damaso na ma bother; kung bakit itong ka tagal ng gamit ng mga babaeng katoliko na dapat ipamahagi ng libre ng panahalaan ang sinasalag nila? mas gusto po ba nila na nakikita ang mga fetus kesa pigilan ang hindi ninanais na pagbubuntis? What would it take for the church to care?

  • Thank you for clarifying things. It saddens me that some priests preach negative things about RH bill in their homily during Eucharistic celebrations. They should be informed properly.

  • Thank you for sharing this Sen. Pia Cayetano. It’s very important to cascade clarity and facts nowadays that only a few people go out of their way to understand what’s happening around them and instead just believe whatever goes around the metro. I’m a Christian and I respect what’s written on the bible. Having read this made me understand what #RHBill truly stands for: To provide “counseling” and “guidance” to those who are living in a misguided path or making wrong choices in their lives in terms of sexual intercourse and to provide “support” to those who are already experiencing the consequences of wrong choices/decisions in the past.

    Maybe you can seek the help of some friends to work together with both Christian & Catholic groups/organizations to support this by finding “how” you can better approach the process of communicating the value of this #RHBill, which I know now is NOT to indirectly promote sexual intercourse, but at least provide guidance to those who are into it. Besides, leaders are supposed to provide the things that their people cannot provide for themselves. As a country leader, I think you’re just doing your job and you’re just looking out for those who are deprived of support in terms of reproductive health and those who are not fully aware of responsible behavior and responsible parenthood. May God bless you in this journey.

  • Yelli Gurl

    RH bill isn’t synonymous with promulgation of premarital or extra-marital sex and abortion. Reproductive health advocates for INFORMED CHOICE and RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what I learned from nursing school.

  • Medyo Bastos

    Kudos and thanks for the write up. There should be hand out too, sort of like RH Bill for dimwits like me etc. that should address questions that men of the pulpit tend to exploit and exaggerate to help their twisted arguments and in so far as I can see, mess with people’s opinion and mindset.

    Good luck and let’s hope that RH Bill can make it through.

  • ammi armas

    Way to go, Pia! Keep pushing it. Ask Tito Sotto to help the poor couples we work with who have 10 children (some more, some a little less) who do not have money to even buy condoms, and are too afraid to displease their Church leaders. Very sad.

  • Claudette Dela Peña

    Good Morning! Sen. Pia :)
    I just want to congratulate you and say thank you. Reading this article is an eye-opener for me. I now truly understand why we need to pass the RH Bill. I am now a PRO RH BILL advocate.

  • DocD

    Good morning. I say bravo! It is time to have this bill push through! I agree on all provisions. Please have these copies of the bill distributed everywhere. I know of some catholic schools demonizing the bill. I heard a teacher tell a student 2 days ago that this bill will have a teenaged pregnant girl undergo forced abortion, them have her ligated as a punishment. SOBRANG DISINFORMATION!

  • hilda bitare

    I salute and congratulate Sen. Pia Cayeteno for having the guts to author this bill.As a woman, she is credible to speak on these issues. Mga kababaihang Pilipino,suportahan natin ang ating magiting na kabaro na may lakas ng loob ipaglaban ang isa nating karapatan! Katawan natin,karapatan natin!

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