Reproductive health bill: Facts, fallacies
THERE IS A CONTINUING campaign to discredit the reproductive health bill through misinformation. Straightforward answers to the negative propaganda will help educate and enlighten people on the measure.
The bill is not antilife. It is proquality life. It will ensure that children will be blessings for their parents since their births are planned and wanted. It will empower couples with the information and opportunity to plan and space their children. This will not only strengthen the family as a unit but also optimize care for children who will have more opportunities to be educated, healthy and productive.
The bill does not interfere with family life. In fact, it enhances family life. The family is more than a natural nucleus; it is a social institution whose protection and development are impressed with public interest. It is not untouchable by legislation. For this reason, the State has enacted the Civil Code on family relations, the Family Code, and the Child and Youth Welfare Code.
The bill does not legalize abortion. It expressly provides that “abortion remains a crime” and “prevention of abortion” is essential to fully implement the Reproductive Health Care Program. While “management of post-abortion complications” is provided, this is not to condone abortion but to promote the humane treatment of women in life-threatening situations.
It will not lead to the legalization of abortion. It is not true that all countries where contraceptive use is promoted eventually legalize abortion. Many Catholic countries criminalize abortion even as they vigorously promote contraceptive use like Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Paraguay and Ireland. The Muslim and Buddhist countries of Indonesia and Laos also promote contraceptive use yet proscribe abortion. According to studies, correct and regular use of contraceptives reduces abortion rates by as much as 85 percent and negates the need to legalize abortion.
Contraceptives do not have life-threatening side effects. Medical and scientific evidence shows that all the possible medical risks connected with contraceptives are infinitely lower than the risks of an actual pregnancy and everyday activities. The risk of dying within a year of riding a car is 1 in 5,900. The risk of dying within a year of using pills is 1 in 200,000. The risk of dying from a vasectomy is 1 in 1 million and the risk of dying from using an IUD is 1 in 10 million. The probability of dying from condom use is absolutely zero. But the risk of dying from a pregnancy is 1 in 10,000.
The bill will not promote contraceptive mentality. The bill does not prohibit pregnancy. Critics are mistaken in claiming that because contraceptives would be readily available, people would prefer to have no children at all. Couples will not stop wanting children simply because contraceptives are available. Contraceptives are used to prevent unwanted pregnancies but not to stop pregnancies altogether. Timed pregnancies are assured.
The bill does not impose a two-child policy. It does not promote a compulsory policy strictly limiting a family to two children and no punitive action shall be imposed on parents with more than two children. This number is not an imposition or is it arbitrary because results of the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey show that the ideal of two children approximates the desired fertility of women.
Sexuality education will neither spawn “a generation of sex maniacs” nor breed a culture of promiscuity. Age-appropriate RH education promotes correct sexual values. It will not only instill consciousness of freedom of choice but also responsible exercise of one’s rights. The UN and countries which have youth sexuality education document its beneficial results: understanding of proper sexual values is promoted; early initiation into sexual relations is delayed; abstinence before marriage is encouraged; multiple-sex partners is avoided; and spread of sexually transmitted diseases is prevented.
It does not claim that family planning is the panacea for poverty. It simply recognizes the verifiable link between a huge population and poverty. Unbridled population growth stunts socioeconomic development and aggravates poverty. The connection between population and development is well-documented and empirically established.
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