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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Signature Campaign for the passage of the RH Bill

Dear Friends,


The struggle for the passage of the Reproductive Bill (RH) in Congress rages on. The Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) through our org, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Phils. (DSWP) initiated an online petition that we request you to support by attaching your signature. Please go to this site:

We hope to gather ONE MILLION SIGNATURES to show our legislators that there is a wide support base for the bill's passage despite what the opposition says. We will present the signatures both to the House of Representatives (HOR) and Senate within September as we are waiting for the schedule of plenary deliberations in the HOR and the release of the Senate Committee on Health's report.

Please support the petition. It will not take more than 5 minutes of your time. More than 10 women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. The big bulk of those who die are poor women at the prime of their lives. This is simply unacceptable and must be stopped. Congress has the power to do this.

Kindly forward this mail to all your friends.

Thank you very much.

Beth Angsioco
National Chair, DSWP
Secretary General
Reproductive Health Advocacy Network, RHAN

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Arroyo really pro-artificial birth control, says group

By Desiree Caluza, Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:27:00 08/16/2008

BAGUIO CITY – Health officials and population experts here said President Macapagal-Arroyo is supporting artificial family planning methods although she is more vocal about the natural family planning method.

Aurora Quiray, Cordillera director of the Commission on Population, said Ms Arroyo has ordered the Department of Health, the commission and local governments to educate families on choices of family planning methods because the government considers population as a development issue.

Quiray said the government’s family planning program wants couples to have a choice in controlling their family.

“The government wants to balance artificial and natural family planning method and how they will be carried in the advocacy. In her State of the Nation Address, the President asserted the natural family planning method, but there is a mandate from her for DOH and Popcom on how the local government units will take charge of artificial family planning methods and contraceptives. The natural family planning method is a supplementation,” she said in a press forum here on Wednesday.

She said they held a region-wide consultation with Cordillera leaders on how to strengthen the program on population and development.

She said the consultation clarified the controversial reproductive health bills pending in Congress.

Quiray said it was also in the consultation that the support for artificial family planning method by the government was discussed.

In Pampanga, couples in Central Luzon appeared to favor more the use of modern than natural forms of family planning.

There has been a decline in the use of oral contraceptive pills from 50.56 percent in 2006 to 46.96 percent in 2007 but pills continued to be the first method of choice, according to data from the DOH’s field health service information system in seven provinces and 12 cities in Central Luzon.

The second most popular method – injectable contraceptive, which is done once every three months – also saw a declining number of users from 19.21 percent in 2006 to 16.62 percent in 2007.

More men went for vasectomy, which sharply rose from 0.05 percent in 2006 to 13 percent last year.

An increasing number of women, from 11.77 percent to 15.03 percent, resorted to tubal ligation.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Agencies defy GMA on family planning

By Efren L. Danao
Senior Reporter
The MANILA Times

Five line agencies of the government expressed support on Monday for the reproductive health bills pending before the Senate, thus openly defying the stand of President Gloria Arroyo on artificial methods of family planning.

During a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, the Education, Health and Social Welfare departments and the Higher Education and Population commissions all recognized the “urgent” need for a national policy on reproductive health.

The Senate bills call for state-funded information on artificial and natural methods of family planning and access to services after individuals or couples had decided on what method to adopt. President Arroyo had toed the stand of the Catholic Church that natural methods are the only acceptable ways and that artificial ones promote abortion.

“The bills pending in the Senate move away from the stereotypical idea that women only exist to bear children, therefore giving light to other aspects of women’s health needs like the prevention and management of reproductive-tract infections and other gynecological conditions, elimination of violence against the sector and sexually-related education and counseling, among others,” a position paper of the Social-Welfare department said.

Health Undersecretary Mario Verde said the Health department supports the Senate bills’ calls for responsible parenthood, complete information on reproductive health and freedom of choice on size of family.

Non-government agencies also backed the passage of a law on reproductive health services. Pro-Life Philippines said the issue of reproductive health boils down to the individual right of women to phase their children as they deem appropriate and based on individual circumstances. The group described contraceptives as a health need. It said health is a human right and so the state should provide for it.

Former Sen. Francisco Tatad opposed the bills, saying they are unnecessary and are destructive of public morals and family values.

“Not only are they hedonistic, they are above all eugenicists. They seek to eliminate the poor and the socially unfit while paying lip service to their cause. While they neither mandate a two-child family nor legalize abortion, they prepare the ground for both,” Tatad added. Eugenics is the science that deals with the improvement, as by birth control of human mating, of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, the committee chairman, said she is willing to impose stiffer sanctions on abortion just to show that the Senate is against any law that would allow it.

She indicated that her panel would endorse reproductive health services funded by the state and assured pro-life groups that this policy is not a state intervention into bedroom activities.

Cayetano said the Committee on Health would hold one more hearing before preparing a draft committee report.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wake up call for Filipinos

Manila Times
Sunday, July 27, 2008

By Lisi Owen

I arrived in Manila to intern with EnGendeRights, a women's legal NGO, almost 10 weeks ago. As I'm preparing to return to the US next week, I'd like to offer my thoughts on reproductive health policy in the Philippines. My departure conveniently coincides with the CBCP's recent vow to vehemently oppose the reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives as part of its "pro-life" stance on family planning, so this letter is all the more appropriate.

As I've never spent a significant amount of time in a developing country, living in the Philippines has been an enlightening experience for me in many ways. One thing I've learned is that whenever I think to myself, "It can't be that bad," it turns out that it can be that bad, and might be even worse than I can even imagine. That is certainly the case with the reproductive health (RH) policy here.

Before I left the US I Googled "Philippine reproductive health policy," and hits about "natural family planning" (NFP) came up. Since when I hear "natural family planning" I think nineteenth century, and since I've never known anyone who actually thought NFP was a legitimate method of preventing pregnancy, I of course didn't believe that NFP-only was seriously the position of the Philippine government on family planning. And of course I thought to myself, "It couldn't be that bad."

But it is that bad, and yes, even worse than I could have imagined. The Philippines is in the dark ages of reproductive health. "Withdrawal" is not a method of family planning; it is how adolescents who don't know how to use a condom end up dropping out of high school to raise a baby at age 16 and even end up having three to four children by age 20.

I have a staunchly Catholic friend in the US with whom I shared all the recent news articles articulating the CBCP's position and vow to oppose the RH bill, and his response was that Filipino Catholics need to "wake up." Spain, Belgium and other Catholic countries have woken up and changed their laws on contraception, and even abortion, so why is the Philippines still sleeping?

I have seen 30-year-old women being taught how to use a condom. When I tell Filipino friends that I work for a pro-choice NGO, they ask their friends whether they are "pro-contraception." I have seen women begging, pleading for ways to prevent future pregnancies, to end their families' suffering.There is no excuse for this kind of ignorance and primitive mindset about reproductive health, and the misery it imposes on a rapidly growing Filipino population.

In response to the Church's so-called "pro-life" position, I have this to say: Life is more than the possibility of a fertilized egg. Life is children living in pushcarts on the sidewalk, wearing no pants. Life is women whorisk death every time they get pregnant, but continue to do so because their husbands beat them when they refuse sex in the name of "natural family planning." Life is sitting on your front step waiting to die, because you're that miserable, and have nothing else to do.

If the Church is pro-life, then I ask this of the bishops: How do you justify the suffering you cause? This is not a matter of the Church or the government sitting idly by and allowing people to suffer, but an active promotion of misery, and it is wrong.

I recognize the American imperialism that has preceded me in the Philippines, and how that might influence your opinion of my views. But before you dismiss me as another American trying to impose my heathenish, western views on a country that's seen enough outsiders meddling in its business, let me clarify my position: It is one of choice. If you want to practice natural family planning with your partner, that is your prerogative. If you want to capitalize on the benefits of scientific progress to control your own reproductive health, that is your prerogative as well.

It is not, however, the prerogative of the government to impose its own archaic, paternalistic religious views on the suffering people of a nation, (in violation of both the Philippine Constitution and international law, I might add) such that they are stripped of their power of autonomous
decision-making. That, my good Filipino friends, is dictatorship.

[Lisi Owen is a legal intern at EnGendeRights, Inc. and secretary, LawStudents for Reproductive Justice, University of Denver Sturm College ofLaw. Her email address is]