World Population Day call: Pass the RH Bill!

News Release
11 July 2012

On ‘World Population Day,’ Senator Pia renews call for RH Bill passage

Echoing the theme of World Population Day 2012 which calls for “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services,” Senator Pia S. Cayetano today renewed her call for the passage of the long-delayed Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

Celebrated every July 11, this year’s celebration of World Population Day envisions “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

“On World Population Day, let’s prioritize the plight and burden of Filipino mothers. They are the ones who risk their life to bear new life, carry the primary burden of ensuring the health, education and welfare of their children, and balance the family’s meager resources to survive from day-to-day,” said Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2865, the upper chamber’s version of the RH Bill.

“Unfortunately, the situation of our mothers has gone from bad to worse: Maternal deaths in the country have risen from 162 to 221 per 100,000 live births from 2006 to 2011, based on the latest Family Health Survey (FHS). This should be reason compelling enough for any fair-minded legislator to support the enactment of the RH Bill, which would allow mothers universal access to reproductive health services of the government.”

“As more and more of our colleagues are enlightened on the importance and urgency of implementing a national reproductive health policy, we expect the RH bill to finally hurdle the obstacles and see passage soon after Congress reopens its session,” she declared.

She stressed that maternal deaths can be prevented under the RH Bill, which seeks to expand access to the following services, especially to those from the poorest households: (1) Natural and artificial family planning services to allow mothers to plan and space their pregnancies; (2) Prenatal care to ensure the mother’s health and nutrition, and allow for early detection of complications; (3) Safe and modern birthing facilities manned by health professionals to ensure safe deliveries; and (4) Postpartum services to monitor and address complications after delivery.

Cayetano likewise noted that the findings of the 2011 Family Health Survey (FH) confirm the widely accepted fact that women who have less income and less education are also the least likely to practice modern family planning methods.

“Based on the FHS, prevalence in the use of modern contraceptives is much lower for married women belonging to poor households compared to those belonging to non-poor households,” the lady senator related.

Citing figures from the survey, she noted that for women aged 15-49 years old who belong to poor households, only 31.8% use any modern method of family planning.

On the other hand, Cayetano said the disparity in the use of contraceptives is more pronounced for married women with little or no education, compared to those with higher levels of education. Based on the FHS, prevalence in the use of modern contraceptives is much lower among women with no education at only 13.4%, compared to those who finished elementary (32.2%), high school (38.5%) and college (37.1%).

“What these figures prove is that clearly, there’s a very huge unmet need for reproductive health services for women in general, but more so, for those who come from the poorest families and those who are less educated.”

“There clearly is an urgent material need for an RH Law, but its hard-line critics refuse to see the reality. They refuse to lift a finger to help alleviate the condition of Filipino mothers despite the alarming rise in maternal deaths. It’s high time we end this vicious cycle where mothers are callously denied access to reproductive health services, which is their right and need. It’s high time to pass the RH Bill.” #

File photo: Reproductive Health (RH) Bill principal sponsors Sens. Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago at the Senate with women’s groups calling for the measure’s passage.

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