The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines is to decide on the fate of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law after its final deliberations on April 8. Also known as the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012,” the law passed legislation December 21, 2012. However due to several petitions challenging its constitutionality, the SC delayed its implementation.
The World Youth Alliance (WYA) Asia Pacific stays firm in its stand against the RH Law. While we do believe in recognizing and improving reproductive health per se, we do not agree with some provisions the law, including its emphasis on “modern methods” of family planning, which in simple terms, means contraception. Some penal provisions also violate right to free choice and conscience.
WYA believes in a knowledge-based approach to reproductive health that will help individuals fully understand their biological capacities, at the same time develop greater respect for the human body. We are beings with intrinsic dignity and must therefore be respected.
Supporters of the law have also used the improvement of maternal health as an argument. However, the law actually does not fully address the main causes of maternal mortality worldwide which are: hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor and hypertensive disorders.
These causes can be significantly addressed if the government first gives priority to improving basic health care services. Delivery of such systems and technology to rural and marginalized areas must be prioritized. Our hospitals and other birthing facilities must be adequately equipped. Added to these, the causes of maternal mortality can be addressed by investing in the training of birth attendants and health workers, and a knowledge based healthcare system discussed earlier.
And while the law has some provisions for these, reading the law gives the impression that family planning is indeed the focus. As we await the SC’s decision, we continue to fight for the dignity of every human person, including that of the unborn. And we call on you to stand up for life with us as well.
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By Ma. Zarina San Jose, a former intern of WYA Asia Pacific and Headquarters.