The Philippine Reproductive Health Bill: Solution or Misguided Advocacy?
When it comes to reproductive health and provision of health care services; it's always a selective case and shouldn't be a totalitarian decree which mandates everyone to oblige. Although the RH bill is reasonable enough on almost all possible grounds; it fails to respect some of the most rudimentary human rights of families, individuals, teachers and health workers and these violations shouldn't be ignored. Mandatory sex education starting from 5th grade to 4th year high school is an exceptional example of this violation. Because of this inclusion in the bill, parents who are the primary care givers of their children no longer have a say which part of "sex" should their children learn at an early age since it is already the government's dictates what's to be taught by educators in schools. And since the law does not guarantee any form of punishment to anyone who may use sex education to take advantage of children; it does not safeguard the reproductive health of minors. This type of "openness" to sex in schools may also prove not just a challenge to educators but may also become a problem to them as well. Aside from parents, teachers are our best bet to teach children life skills they need to become successful and sex shouldn't be one of subjects. Sex is after all, instinctive and not a life skill. Parenting may be a life skill, another subtopic which is included in sex education, but how will educators teach such a broad subject to children who are not even ready to accept life facts? Moreover, once either the parents or the teachers fail to deliver the right message, the children although they have a choice later on in life will ultimately suffer the consequences. If sex education is delivered, taught and inculcated by teachers who have no proper training in sensitive issues and matters this can result to inappropriate curiosity among students thus teenage pregnancy, adolescents having STDs and HIV and promiscuity will still become a problem and would probably be worst than expected.
Another downside of the bill is its implementation of the universal distribution of condoms and IUDs to families both young and old. Contraceptive use is a matter discussed between health workers and couples. In this discussion, alternative methods and the dangers of contraceptive use is included. However in this case, contraceptives like condoms and IUDs will be disseminated to homes by the government even though families have no idea what it's for. Among other things, contraceptives will be classified as essential drugs which will be useful to prevent chances of fertilization. Since when did pregnancy become a disease that needs to be prevented? This alone removes a health worker's right to inform a patient properly about contraceptive use. Although information dissemination is included in the RH bill one cannot deny the fact that it will result to miscalculations and inappropriate use of contraceptives since the information will not primarily come from health workers but the government itself. If this will be the case, will government officials be able to deliver the proper information to people who are interested? And how sure is the national government that local officials will not make money out of this campaign?
In addition, children as young as 10 or 11 can now have full access to contraceptives even without their parents consent. And what's more, any health worker and government officials should provide them with one or else consequences will apply. The truth is, although the RH bill clearly states that it does not imposes anything on the Filipino family when it comes to reproduction; it does however imposes a whole lot of impossible demands to Health workers. Health workers, thanks to the RH bill, can now be imprisoned and fined Php 10,000 to 50,000 for not informing a client about reproductive health and for not assisting and/or performing contraceptive methods (like ligation) to a person of legal age on grounds like lack of spousal authorization. This punishment is already a pre-signed warrant to any health worker who would or may consider the choices of their client. And the government is saying "it's your choice" where's the choice in that?! This is a rather unfair consequence for the fulfillment of the government's quest for a better "quality of life". To what extent would they take this advocacy anyway? I'd say, far enough for iron fists to reach your ovaries and testes. What good then are your opinions about having large families, about what you believe in when this Reproductive Health Bill superficially protects you and or respects your reproductive health choices?
Another thing, when it comes to the issue of abortion the RH bill will provide services to women who aborted their babies, give them free health care, counseling, and treat them as victims. How about those babies they've killed? What would become of their cries for justice? They are victims too, aren't they? Would this method provide valuable lessons to those mothers or will it give them confidence to do away with their crimes because the law will protect them anyway. It seems unlikely that the rate of abortion will decline when the "doer of the deed" will not be punished for it.
On another note, people think that the RH bill will protect victims of rape, incest and sexual abuse by providing "EMERGENCY" contraceptives to prevent getting impregnated by their violators. This claim is not cited within the RH bill. Although rape is a sexual (therefore reproductive) case; it remains a criminal case and punishments for the violator is not included in the RH bill. Emergency contraceptives are hardly even available in our country and to say this to countless of victims is like giving them a false reassurance. A misconception that shouldn't land on anyone's ear.
For the government, this Bill may look like a practical solution to finally fight poverty. But to us who live the real life and struggles of the typical Filipino; it isn't even close to the solution we need. As for me, I know for a fact that this bill is just another one of those time-consuming, money-wasting law which will drain out people's money for nothing. It is after all, a bill that's after the taxes of people. A staggering 3 Billion which could be used to fund schools, hospitals, rural health clinics, roads and etc. Or electricity and water pumps perhaps for far flung areas. An overwhelming sum of money which can be turned into food for starving families instead of a rubbery device which they may choose not to use.
It's your choice!
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