Thursday, January 08, 2009

The REAL DEAL on the REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL

The Reproductive Health Bill sponsored by the group of Rep. Edcel Lagman has been the talk of the town for the past few months. Apparently, the Roman Catholic Church (CBCP) takes the lead in opposing the bill. As an academic, I encourage critical and systematic study of issues. As a minister, I support laws that would protect the younger generation from the negative consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior.

Attached is the Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043). Read the text yourself, then make your own judgment. I highlighted in yellow the sections which I would consider "interesting", "noteworthy", "contentious" and require thorough studies and discussions.

Overall, the bill promotes responsible parenthood through conscious, government-led information campaign. It even supports the promotion of ABSTINENCE before marriage--the message I have been preaching for years. A legal website summarizes the contents of the bill. You can visit: http://jlp-law.com/blog/reproductive-health-bill-fact-sheet-and-explanatory-note/

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(Note: This is the Fact Sheet from the Committee on Health on House Bill No. 5043 [full text], in substitution to HB Nos. 17, 812, 2753 & 3970. Introduced by Reps. Edcel C. Lagman, Janette L. Garin, Narciso D.Santiago III, Mark Llandro Mendoza, Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel, Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona. The full text of the explanatory note of Rep. Edcel Lagman’s House Bill No. 17, one of the substituted bills, is also reproduced below.

OBJECTIVE/S:

  • To uphold and promote respect for life, informed choice, birth spacing and responsible parenthood in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards.
  • To guarantee universal access to medically-safe, legal and quality reproductive health care services and relevant information even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children.

KEY PROVISIONS:

  • Mandates the Population Commission, to be an attached agency of the Department of Health, to be the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body for effective implementation of this Act.
  • Provides for the creation of an enabling environment for women and couples to make an informed choice regarding the family planning method that is best suited to their needs and personal convictions.
  • Provides for a maternal death review in LGUs, national and local government hospitals and other public health units to decrease the incidence of maternal deaths.
  • Ensures the availability of hospital-based family planning methods such as tubal ligation, vasectomy and intrauterine device insertion in all national and local government hospitals, except in specialty hospitals.
  • Considers hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other allied reproductive health products and supplies under the category of essential medicines and supplies to form part of the National Drug Formulary and to be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units.
  • Provides for a Mobile Health Care Service in every Congressional District to deliver health care goods and services.
  • Provides Mandatory Age-appropriate Reproductive Health Education starting from Grade 5 to Fourth Year High School to develop the youth into responsible adults.
  • Mandates the inclusion of the topics on breastfeeding and infant nutrition as essential part of the information given by the City or Municipal Office of the Family Planning to all applicants for marriage license.
  • Mandates no less than 10% increase in the honoraria of community-based volunteer workers, such as the barangay health workers, upon successful completion of training on the delivery of reproductive health care services.
  • Penalizes the violator of this Act from one month to six months imprisonment or a fine ranging from ten thousand to fifty thousand pesos or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the Court.

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