The little children scampering around this village down south of Metro Manila is just mind-boggling. Shrieks of laughter rings in the air. They are giddy with excitement as they wait in line for the generous donor to distribute toys and school supplies. I asked a resident. How is life here? Oh , she says life is hard. Source of income is scarce. Their husbands work hours away in Manila. She goes on and on. One small house fits up to 12 persons. There is no electricity or water. “We have to get water from the spring water of the mountains”
The resident adds ” A 12 year old girl got pregnant recently”. Saddened at the plight of the poor residents, I turned to the priest who lived in the village, “do you believe in the Reproductive Health bill?”
He smiled “No comment”.
The priest could have told me “I oppose it” but he remained quiet on his opinions. I have this nagging feeling that not all priests oppose the Reproductive Health Bill per se.
How many of bishops from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) actually immersed in these poor neighborhoods? Have they actually talked to the women, their difficulty in making ends meet?
The CBCP Pastoral letter entitled “Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill” starts off with the article in the Philippine Constitution :
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights (Art. II, Section 11). The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Art. II, Section 12).
It conveniently forgets to add Art. II. Sec. 15. , Art. XIII. Sec. 11, and Art. XV. Sec. 3.  that the “State shall protect & promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them; adopt an integrated & comprehensive approach to health development ; defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”
The CBCP Pastoral letter conveniently ignores Section 6 of the Constitution, the separation of Church and State. Gosh, where is that Civil disobedience coming from?
The Catholic Church has every right to uphold the teachings of the Church because that is their job. Sorry, but prayers alone do not alleviate poverty and lower mortality rates. The great failure of the CBCP is in keeping their ministry relevant to the lives of their flock.
Now having researched and reflected on the Reproductive Health issue since 2008 , I have long arrived at the conclusion that the Reproductive Health Law will actually save MORE lives.
1. Protect the health and lives of mothers
The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates thatÃ‚Â complications arise in 15% of pregnancies, bad enough to hospitalize or kill women. From theÃ‚Â 2 million plus live births alone, some 300,000 maternal complications occur yearly. This is 7 times theÃ‚Â DOH’s annual count for TB, 19 times for heart diseases and 20 times for malaria in women. As a result, more than 11 women die needlessly each day.
Enough skilled birth attendants and prompt referral to hospitals with emergency obstetric care areÃ‚Â proven curative solutions to maternal complications. For women who wish to stop childbearing,Ã‚Â family planning (FP) is the best preventive measure. All these are part of RH.
2. Save babies
Proper birth spacing reduces infant deaths. The WHO says at least 2 yearsshould pass between a birth and the next pregnancy. In our country, the infant mortality rate of those with less than 2 years birth intervalÃ‚Â is twice those with 3. The more effective and user-friendly the FP method, the greater the chances of the next child to survive.
Like the CBCP said, ” Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being”. Aren’t we saving lives by giving these women the right to access on appropriate health care services? that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth? And in the end, provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.
I choose life. Am I not choosing life if want to save mothers from dying and the life of unborn children.
Face the facts:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Poor and uneducated women marry & give birth earlier in life, & have more children than women with higher education. (NDHS, 2008)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ More than 60% of all pregnancies in the Philippines is classified as high-risk. (NHDS, 2003)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 11 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy & childbirth-related complications (UNFPA, 2008) & over half (56%) of yearly maternal deaths are unreported.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 99% of women who die from pregnancy & childbirth complications comes from developing countries.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 56% of births takes place at home & most common for poor women (87%), under age 20 (62%), without education (94%), for 6th or higher order births (80%), & in rural areas (70%) (2008 NDHS)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 94% of deliveries by richest women were attended by health professionals, for poor women Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 25.7% (2008 NDHS)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Poor women have 3 times more children than the rich.
I reject the CBCP Pastoral Letter.
Bishops are so far removed from reality. Yes, so out of touch with the needs of the faithful.
Rights of women and men to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable family planning methods of their choice, as well as other methods for regulation of fertility ARE NOT AGAINST THE LAW.
Be more informed. Know and read the Reproductive health bill.