Philippines: Population, Poverty, Politics and the RH bill

July 31, 2012 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Philippines, News

The following article, which argues in favor of the Filipino RH Bill, is authored by a consortium of 30 academic economists (representing nearly all members of the UP School of Economics faculty). As you may know, various forms of “An Act Providing For a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development” have been held in a sort of legislative purgatory/limbo for well over a decade in the Philippines, as highly motivated special interests on both sides of the issue wage relentless PR battles. With a daily net gain of 230,000 globally, we may wonder at the authors’ opening sentence; from there however, they proceed to build an overwhelming technical argument in favor of the bill.

Population, poverty, politics and RH bill

By: 30 University of the Philippines economists
Philippine Daily Inquirer
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The population issue has long been dead and buried in developed and most developing countries, including historically Catholic countries.

That it continues to be debated heatedly in our country merely testifies to the lack of progress in policy and action. The Catholic Church hierarchy has maintained its traditional stance against modern family planning (FP) methods, particularly modern (also referred to as “artificial”) contraceptives.

On the other hand, the State acknowledges the difficulties posed for development by rapid population growth, especially among the poorest Filipinos. But it has been immobilized from effectively addressing the issue by the Catholic hierarchy’s hard-line position, as well as the tendency of some politicians to cater to the demands of well-organized and impassioned single-issue groups for the sake of expediency.

Caught between a hard Church and a soft State are the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who affirm the importance of helping women and couples control the size of their families and the responsibility of the government to provide budgetary support for modern FP services.

Renewed impetus to the debate has been given by the public and political interest in the decade-and-a-half old bill on “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development” (RH bill, for short). Unfortunately, serious discussion has been hampered by the lack of reliable information and the proclivity of some parties in the debate to use epithets that label the bill as “proabortion,” “antilife” and “immoral.”

There were a few aspects of the bill to which some groups have expressed objections, which the latest version has already addressed. In any case, the main thrust of the bill-“enabl(ing) couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to carry out their decisions”-is something we strongly and unequivocally support. In what follows, we explain why.

Real score
The experience from across Asia indicates that population policy cum government-funded FP program has been a critical complement to sound economic policy and poverty reduction.

To read the full article, please click here:

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