Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Women workers support RH bill

1 December 2010

Working women add our voice to the chorus of support for the RH bill. The Partido ng Manggagawa asserts that the passage of House Bill 96 or “The Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2010” is critical given the impact of the global financial crisis on working people and the poor, especially women. The growing incidence of hunger and poverty only connotes that poor and working women will neither be able to afford nor access contraceptive methods, in particular, and reproductive health care services, in general.

PM supports the RH bill on the basis of women’s right to reproductive health care. The rapid increase in population due to unmet needs of married Filipino women for family planning services is a growing concern. It is different when population control is forced rather than the implicit demand of women as reflected in the following statistics:

• Women want fewer children than they actually have. The total wanted fertility in the country of 2.4 children is 27% lower than the actual total fertility rate of 3.3 children (NDHS 2008)

• 42% of women consider a two-child family as the ideal family size (2008 NDHS)

• 2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but lack information and access to do so. (Family Planning Survey 2006)

• Among the poorest women who would like to avoid pregnancy, at least 41% do not use any contraceptive method because of lack of information or access. (FPS 2006)

• 22% of married Filipino women have an unmet need for family planning services (2008 National Demographic and Health Survey), an increase of more than one-third since the 2003 NDHS, among other numerous statistics and studies that have been conducted.

These data, including the fact that from the 1999 population of roughly 75 million, 10 years later after the first comprehensive version of the RH bill was filed in Congress, the country’s population has increased by 19.3 million or an annual average increase of two million every year within the decade.

And more importantly, precise and regular use of contraceptives can decrease abortion rates by as much as 85% according to Allan Guttmacher Institute. As to the Catholic Church’s irresponsible statement that modern contraception is a form of abortion, this distorts the scientific fact that pregnancy happens at implantation and not during conception as it boldly claims. Such unscientific assertion belies the Church’s claim of being not anti-scientific; it is rather relative, depending on whether it would adhere to its archaic views, regardless of it being anti-women.

This is like going back to the four centuries-old controversy (wherein the Church believed that it is the Earth rather than the Sun the is the center of the solar system) that led to thee burning of Giordano Bruno alive at the stake and the trial of Galileo Galilei by the Inquisition and which forced him to recant and spend the rest of his life under house arrest. And to which, 1992, Pope John Paul II acknowledged a mistake. PM hopes that it will not take that long for the Church to admit that it is making the same mistake.

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