“Every maternal death is an event we can avoid and one that we should never allow to happen.” Fatima Bakire, MD, Dosso Regional Hospital


People attending last week’s church sponsored anti Reproductive Health bill rally actually believed abortion is part of the bill. I can accept people who are against the RH Bill because of their religious views. What I find unacceptable is spreading misinformation about it.

I wonder why the label ““pro-life” is assumed by those against the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill). Am I anti-life if I support the RH Bill? Am I immoral? Why do bishops call it the demonic RH Bill? Can’t God be the judge of that?

If they claim they are pro-life, why do they wish ill of RH backers? Why do they play ““audio messages, one of which features a lola character wishing lightning would strike lawmakers backing the bill?

How can these holier-than-thou know each RH advocate? Do they know …?

I am pro-life.

I am for the Reproductive Health Bill.

I am pro-life because I believe that all births should be planned and wanted by their parents.

I am pro-life because I am against abortion except for special cases, such as mothers dying from pregnancy complications.

I am pro-life because I believe women do not have to die during childbirth.

On the Day of the Unborn, we celebrated the 25th birthday of Lauren, my eldest daughter. She might not like to hear this but she was conceived after determining my fertile days out of the Billings Ovulation Method. I have never used chemical and hormonal ways to achieve or avoid pregnancy only because I knew all about natural family planning methods.  In the Billings method, not all women are open to the idea of touching the discharge from their vulva. Perhaps it is the upbringing that ““you are not supposed to touch your vagina except during washing”. Oh yes, one of the nuns told us that. This is the same religion that promotes the Billings method.

I am blessed to be married to the love of my life for the past 25 years, my boyfriend for 7 years. He is my one and only lover and to see our children are truly miracles of God and a union of our love. What more can I ask from God? A baby is a gift of life. Tears of joy always overcome me in every birth of my children. They are truly God’s greatest gifts ever given to me. I wish every mother receives this gift of life.

It is this wish that prompted me to support the Reproductive Health Bill in 2008. It is also the year I stopped going to the Catholic Church in the Philippines, but that is another story.  Even though I left the Catholic Church, it does not mean I stopped loving and believing God. It is my love of God that moves me to help women, who die daily from childbirth and who are ignorant of reproductive health issues.

It saddens me that the bishops misrepresent RH Bill as something that promotes abortion and of adolescent promiscuity. I feel these bishops have been intellectually dishonest and ignored the good faith of RH advocates. They have failed to proclaim the life-saving and values-formation character of this public health measure, which many desire to be passed into law.

Misconceptions about the RH Bill have been clarified many times and I’ve already shared ten facts about the reproductive health in the Philippines. However, let me show some facts to disprove the belief of the Catholic Church that birth control pills are abortifacients and that RH Bill is all about abortion.

1. Abortion is illegal, criminal and punishable by law. There is absolutely no provision in the RH Bill about the legalization of abortion.

2. Abortifacient is defined in the website prolifephysicians.com as ““a drug [and or device] that kills a newly formed human being, whether by directly killing the baby or by preventing implantation.”

3.  Life begins with conception. Fertilization only needs a sperm and an egg to complete. Conception requires a woman who will conceive. Conception comes from conceive, which in turn comes from the Latin concipere—”to take in and hold; become pregnant”. The bottom line: a fertilized egg needs to successfully implant in a woman before conception—meaning pregnancy—begins.

4. All contraceptive pills and intrauterine conceptive devices (IUDs) are not abortifacients and will not induce abortions. These are meant to suppress ovulation, which stops fertilization and the formation of a fetus. You can download this fact sheet on contraception and abortion. Modern contraceptives are in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines.

5. Modern contraceptives like the IUDs, pills and injectibles are available even in countries where abortion is strictly prohibited. The best example is Ireland where, like the Philippines, Catholics make up 86.8% of the population, and where a similar constitutional provision protecting the “unborn” exists.

RH is about using contraceptives so you can have babies only when you want to, and so you can achieve a family size you can comfortably support. It is about producing children with love and producing them responsibly so your limited resources can provide them a good life, not one where they sleep in sidewalks or eat rice flavored with patis day in day out. It is about helping women avoid the health complications caused by closely-spaced births or unplanned late pregnancies. Caring about all these things is being concerned with life. That is being pro life.

Read more about the Reproductive Health Bill.

About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

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