Last year October 11, 2009, Bobby Atendido, BCBP Board of Trustees Chairman, in his column on this website clarified some of the points in the Reproductive Health Bill No. 5043 that is now the focus of the Congress, the media, the Church, and the Philippine President. Bobby Atendido gives us some suggestions on what, as BCBP members, as Catholics, should be our response to this issue. We reprint his article for your information, reflection and URGENT ACTION!!!
The Reproductive Health Bill No. 5043
Together with Bro. Joey and Lulu Avellana and other BCBP brothers and sisters, I attended a forum on the “The Reproductive Health Bill No. 5043” the other night held in St. James Church, Ayala Alabang Village. It is a much talked about piece of legislation that our politicians in Congress are expected to pass into law in the near term and will be foisted on all Filipinos, totally unaware of its full implications, unless we take courageous steps to prevent its passage. In order to educate ourselves on what the RH Bill was all about, we listened to several presentations made on the subject. My personal conclusion is that this RH Bill is insidious and evil that all of us must unequivocally and vehemently oppose.
I wish to share and quote some of the points raised during the Forum that I believe will clearly show that this proposed legislation is the work of the evil one who aims to create strongholds that will destroy the family, the basic unit of any society. A summary of the objections against the Bill is as follows:
1. EMPLOYERS will be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to employees. (Section 17 states that the employers shall provide for free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. (Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)
This implies that an employer who fails to provide for free, say a condom, to his driver when requested, can be hauled to court for violating the provisions of the Bill. This absurd example can be extended to the office where the owner of the business can be liable for violations if he does not provide contraceptives to his female employees if such are requested.
2. HEALTH CARE SERVICES PROVIDERS must provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient’s civil status, gender, religion or age/minors included. (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraphs 1 to 5 and Section 22 on Penalties)
3. A SPOUSE does not need the consent of the husband or wife to undergo a ligation or vasectomy procedure. ( Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraph 2).
The procedures of ligation or vasectomy are mandatorily made available to a spouse without partner consent. Such a provision is anti-Catholic since the procedures are clearly not allowed by the Catholic Church but will now be made accessible to whoever wants the procedure performed.
4. CHILDREN from age 10 to 17 will be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and “safe” sex life as part of their school curriculum. Parents will no longer have any control over the sex education of their children. (Section 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Section 4 Definition of Family Planning and Reproductive health, Paragraph b, c, and d)
Sex education becomes a mandatory part of a school curriculum. This means that the oversight over the sex education of their children by parents is diminished since it is the school that will formulate and implement the program, the content of which will be dictated by State policies. The Bill proposes to teach children how to achieve satisfying and safe sex in life which is a distorted and unacceptable view of human sexuality. The problem is that any objection to the program can be considered as actions inimical to the Bill and therefore may be subject to penal sanctions for those who will oppose the content of such a sex education.
5. CITIZENS will be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting “malicious disinformation” (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Paragraph f and Section 22 on Penalties).
This dangerous provision threatens every Filipino who expresses anything against the law that is interpreted as “malicious disinformation” with imprisonment and/or fines. What is considered “malicious” has not been defined and therefore is open to a wide interpretation and will leave those who oppose the Bill very vulnerable.
6. PARENTS will lose parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (Section 21, a, no.3).
This is an unconstitutional provision that removes parental control over minor children and hands it over to the State.
7. CONTRACEPTIVES will be classified as “essential medicines” (Section 10). This means that the National Government will appropriate limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23). As essential medicines, the government will fund the distribution of contraceptives in all public health centers and hospitals.
Scarce government resources will be spent to purchase such supplies for distribution in health centers and government hospitals. Our Congress clearly has a distorted view of national priorities which should put poverty alleviation by generating employment opportunities for the citizenry, economic development, environmental protection and similar programs at the top of the national agenda rather than spending money for contraceptives, for medical procedures such as ligation and vasectomy.
Everybody should be made aware of the penal provisions imbedded in the Bill. It will subject those who violate the law with imprisonment and/or fine every time a citizen fails to comply with the law. It threatens each and every Citizen of the country to follow this Law when passed.
What should each member of BCBP do?
Several action items are suggested. First of all, each one should read the proposed RH Bill 5043 and be familiar with the provisions of the Bill. A copy of the entire bill can be downloaded from the internet. Just search for “Reproductive Health Bill 5043 in the Philippines” and the full text of the bill can be read or downloaded.
Secondly, we as a community should voice out our strong objections to the proposed Bill by writing our Congressmen and Senators including publishing our opinion and views. For your information the only three Senators against the bill are Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. The 20 other Senators are pro RH Bill. In the House of Representatives, there are 147 pros and only 68 antis; among the party list representatives there are 21 pros and only 4 antis.
Thirdly, we should form alliances and cooperation with other communities and NGO’s who are opposed to the Bill in order to create a greater impact and generate a momentum of opposition.
Fourthly, we should all pray for divine intervention so that those who support the Bill will be enlightened and withdraw support.
Lastly, let us also pray for our President who has already expressed her opposition to the Bill so that she will not waver in her conviction to veto the Bill if and when the Bill is passed by our Congress.
The response opposing this RH Bill No. 5043 is urgent. Let us pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to divinely deliver the Filipino nation from this evil.