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As RH moves to Plenary, Women tells Bishops: Respect Our Right to Life

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Amid extreme disappointment over yesterdays’ suspension of the House of Representatives session, when the much awaited plenary debate for the highly debated reproductive health bill is set to be delivered, a group of women advocates pushing for the passage of House Bill 4244 or the “Responsible Parenthood (RP), Reproductive Health (RH) and Population Development Act of 2011” calls on bishops to respect women’s right to life.

The non-government organization Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) is concerned that Catholic bishops have been issuing statements on many issues but never a thing on arresting maternal deaths.  

Angsioco explains deprivation of life-saving reproductive health services is like a death sentence hanging over the head of poor women.  Our group alone have lost quite a number of poor women and almost lost many more, due to lack of access to reproductive health services. 

It is lamentable that for every woman lost, a family is orphaned.  Children become motherless.  The country loses productive citizens, Angsioco continued.   

She said, “even from a purely utilitarian point of view, this means:  less human resource for the nation and more financial assistance needed for the orphaned family.  The nation loses if we do nothing and allow the death of 11 mothers every day, due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications.”

Angsioco stressed DSWP wants the bishops to know that these are senseless deaths because almost all could have been prevented if services contain in the RH bill are adequately provided for.  “The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) stubborn rejection of the RH bill is a major reason why women die,” Angsioco said.

An effective Family Planning (FP) program can dramatically reduce maternal deaths by 32%.  This is because FP prevents mistimed, too early, too frequent, and too late pregnancies, and high risk pregnancies that have high probability of having complications, Angsioco said.  “But an effective FP program in the country is yet to be realized pending the passage of the RP and RH bill,” she added.

Guttmacher Institute study has shown that an effective FP program is cost-effective.  For every peso spent on FP, the state can save from three to one hundred pesos in addressing pregnancy and childbirth-related problems.

Meanwhile, DSWP commends RH champions for working hard for the passage of the RH Bill.   Angsioco says, “The early start of plenary debates on the RH Bill is a welcome development because this means that there is enough time for the Plenary to vote on it. While we expect opponents to use all possible tricks to delay, we are hopeful that the bill will pass.”

As RH advances to plenary debate, DSWP members call on the bishops to care for women and fully respect women’s right to life.  If bishops are truly against the death penalty, they should be with us in working for the immediate passage of the RH bill into law, ended Angsioco. -30- Rhoda Avila, DSWP

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