Our common assessment of HB 4244 is that it is an important piece of legislation that needs to be passed urgently. It enshrines the constitutional right of couples to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honours our commitments to international alliances; and promotes the reproductive health and rights of Filipinos, especially those who are most marginalized on this issue – our women, poor families and youth. According to the Reproductive Health Act, one of its components is “prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications.” It states that “the government must ensure that all women who need treatment and counselling after abortion complications are treated and counselled humanely, non-judgmental and compassionately.” It also states that “abortion remains a crime and punishable,” as the constitution declares that “the state shall protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child equally from conception.”  The Philippines is the 39th most densely populated country with a density of over 335 people per square kilometer, and the population growth rate is 1.9% (2010 census), 1.957% (2010 estimate by CIA World Factbook) or 1.85% (2005-2010 high variant estimate by the United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision) compared to 3.1 in 1960. [ref. In addition, as faculty members of a Catholic university, we believe that the key principles of the Reproductive Health Act – promoting reproductive health, subsidizing the health needs of marginalized and vulnerable people, guaranteeing the right to information and education of adults and adolescents, respecting the freedom of choice of individuals and couples in family planning – are consistent with the principles. fundamentals of Catholic social teaching. are compatible. such as the sanctity of human life, the dignity of the human person, the privileged option for the poor, integral human development, human rights and the primacy of conscience. The Reproductive Health Act makes explicit and repeated reference to respect for the human rights of all persons and non-discrimination. However, it does not allow minors to access modern contraceptives without “the written consent of their parents or guardians” . The restriction of the law overrides a presidential decree aimed at accelerating family planning (FP) and addressing “no unmet need for modern contraceptives” . Executive Decree No.
12, p. 2017: Achieve and maintain “zero unmet need for modern family planning” through the strict enforcement of the Responsible Parenting and Reproductive Health Act, allocating funds for this and other purposes. 2017. www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2017/01jan/20170109-EO-12-RRD.pdf. On January 31, 2011, six different bills were combined into a single reproductive health bill, which was then unanimously passed by the House Population and Family Relations Committee for debate in plenary. 7. In February 2011, the bill was scheduled to go to the House Budget Committee. On February 16, 2011, the bill was approved by the House Budget Committee with amendments and referred to the Population Committee for finalization. [ref. needed] Lagman, on the other hand, said both of these priorities are important, but with a growing population, the budget will become even tighter, so population growth is a big issue. [ref. needed] However, parts of existing laws and policies severely restrict human rights.
These include the requirement of parental and conjugal consent; banning emergency contraceptives in public hospitals; the need to certify that contraceptives are not abortifacient; and the wide margin of manoeuvre left to conscientious objectors. The penal code criminalizes abortion without explicit exceptions – none for rape, health risk, or life-threatening pregnancy. One of the technical guides contains standards on respecting the privacy rights of youth . However, the standards do not include contraceptive services. Another technical guide notes that when there is a conflict between restrictive policies and the youth`s well-being, the claimant must draw on personal experience and other knowledgeable individuals . However, the legal requirement of parental consent limits the privacy and confidentiality rights of minors who want contraceptives [11, 12]. Proponents like Lagman have also pointed out that official Catholic teaching itself, expressed in the encyclical Humanae Vitae published only forty years ago in 1964, is not infallible.  He said that the Pontifical Commission for Birth Control, which included high-ranking prelates and theologians, recommended that the Church change its teaching on contraception, concluding that “the regulation of conception seems necessary for many couples who want to achieve responsible, open and reasonable parenting in the current circumstances.” The Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial also stated that Catholic doctrine is “only” a religious doctrine and should not be imposed on a secular state with intolerance. [ref. needed] Many poor women do not receive information on how to obtain reproductive health care. Our disadvantaged women must accept standards lower than what they need, want or deserve.
According to the Department of Health, the mortality rate for Filipino mothers increased from 162 per 100,000 live births in 2009 to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011. But not only women, but also children. Children remain malnourished and undereducated because their parents know nothing about reproductive health care and choices. One of the main concerns of sponsors is the perceived lack of access to family planning devices such as contraceptives and sterilization. The bill aims to ensure universal access through government funds, complementing private sector initiatives for family planning services such as those offered by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which supports family planning organizations in the Philippines and the 97 organizations of the Philippine Council of NGOs. [ref. Despite the injunction on certain contraceptive methods, President Rodrigo Duterte decided in September 2018 to provide free contraception in 2018 to 6 million women with unmet modern family planning needs – in 2018 for 2 million women identified as poor, then for 4 million more women.  The Ministry of Health notes that family planning can reduce maternal mortality by about 32 percent.  The bill aims to “prevent maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth,” said Clara Padilla of Engender Rights. She reported that every day “11 women die during childbirth in the Philippines. These preventable deaths could have been prevented if more Filipino women had had access to reproductive health and health care information.
In 1989, the Philippine Legislative Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) was established “dedicated to formulating viable public policies that require legislation on population management and socio-economic development.” [ref. needed] In 2000, the Philippines had signed the Millennium Declaration and had committed itself to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including by promoting gender equality and health. In 2003, USAID began phasing out a 33-year-old program that provided the country with free contraceptives. Aid recipients, such as the Philippines, have faced the challenge of funding their own contraceptive programmes. In 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Philippine Contraceptive Self-Sufficiency Strategy, which provides for the replacement of contraceptive donations with domestically supplied contraceptives.  “Strategies to rapidly increase contraceptive use by improving services and access in appropriate or well-equipped areas are likely to increase inequalities in contraceptive use.” Maternal mortality and general reproductive health problems also remain high because the particular problems faced by poor populations are not addressed. (Nuriye Ortayli and Shawn Malarcher, “Equity Analysis: Identifying Who Benefits from Family Planning Programs.”) In this way, family planning programmes that emphasize contraceptive use rather than an integrated and comprehensive approach to population development will not meet the needs of the poor. Felipe Medalla, former dean of the University of the Philippines` School of Economics, defended the bill, saying that “while poor people`s access to family planning services can be improved even without the law, the absence of the law makes it easier to block the program.” [ref. needed] In the Philippines, single and married adolescents are exposed to many sexual and reproductive health risks from early, unprotected and/or unwanted sexual activity .
Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and maternal morbidity and mortality, including the after-effects of unsafe abortion. Young parents often have to drop out of school, limiting employment opportunities in adulthood. Measures to ensure and improve young people`s access to contraceptive information and services can reduce these health and social problems. This article examines how the new Philippine Reproductive Health Act, Supreme Court decisions, and related policies affect the specific needs of adolescents. From this perspective, it should not be seen as an “attack” on Filipino sensibilities or a “Western imposition” on the population. On the contrary, the strong support of the population shows the deep need for reproductive health services.