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What is RH Law? The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354), informally known as the Reproductive Health Law or RH Law, is a law in the Philippines, which guarantees universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.

How does RH Law started?

According to the Senate Policy Brief titled "Promoting Reproductive Health", the history of reproductive health in the Philippines dates back to 1967 when leaders of 12 countries including the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos signed the Declaration on Population. The Philippines agreed that the population problem should be considered as the principal element for long-term economic development. Thus, the Population Commission was created to push for a lower family size norm and provide information and services to lower fertility rates.

Different presidents had different points of emphasis. President Ferdinand Marcos pushed for a systematic distribution of contraceptives all over the country, a policy that was called "coercive", by its leading administrator. The Corazon Aquino administration focused on giving couples the right to have the number of children they prefer, while Fidel V. Ramos shifted from population control to population management. Joseph Estrada used mixed methods of reducing fertility rates, while Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo focused on mainstreaming natural family planning, while stating that contraceptives are openly sold in the country.

In 1989, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) was established, "dedicated to the formulation of viable public policies requiring legislation on population management and socio-economic development". In 2000, the Philippines signed the Millennium Declaration and committed to attain the MDGs by 2015, including promoting gender equality and health. In 2003 USAID started its phase out of a 33-year-old program by which free contraceptives were given to the country. Aid recipients such as the Philippines faced the challenge to fund its own contraception program. In 2004 the Department of Health introduced the Philippines Contraceptive Self-Reliance Strategy, arranging for the replacement of these donations with domestically provided contraceptives.

In August 2010, the government announced a collaborative work with the USAID in implementing a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy in favor of family planning called May Plano Sila. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsible_Parenthood_and_Reproductive_Health_Act_of_2012 Who signed the RH Law and When?

At 3 in the morning on December 13, 2012, the House of Representatives voted on second reading in favor of the bill with 113–109 while five representatives abstained. In the upper house, the Senate voted, on December 18, 2012, to pass the bill on second reading with 13–8, while Senators Sergio Osmeña III and Lito Lapid were absent.

On the same day, both houses passed the bill on the third and final reading. Members of the House of Representatives voted 133–79, while seven representatives abstained. The Senate registered 13–8, the same result as the second reading.

On December 19, 2012, both versions of the bill were passed to the Bicameral Committee to produce a final version to be signed by the President Aquino. The committee quickly passed the bill in just one session. It was transmitted back to the House of Representatives and the Senate, which both ratified the bill, with the Senate voting 11–5 in favor of ratification, and the House of Representatives voting via voice vote.

On December 21, 2012, President Aquino signed the bill into law, codifying the bill as Republic Act No. 10354, otherwise known as the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012". News of the signing was announced by House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on December 28, 2012.

Importance of RH Law

Reproductive health law helps us to control the growth of our population.

* To prevent unintended pregnancies
About half of all pregnancies in the Philippines (approximately 1.43 million a year) 1 are unintended. The Health Department has noted that Filipino women on average have one child more than they want.
According to the recently-launched 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (2008 NDHS), one in three births is either unwanted or mistimed; over half of married women age 15-49 do not want another child; 82 percent of married women want either to space their births or to limit childbearing altogether.
Twenty-six percent of women age 15-24 have already began child-bearing. The contraceptive prevalence rate was only 36% using modern methods.
In 2006, the CEDAW Committee recommended to the Philippines to “to strengthen measures aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, including by making a comprehensive range of contraceptives more widely available and without any restriction and by increasing knowledge and awareness about family planning.

* To prevent maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth
Daily, there are 11 women dying while giving birth in the Philippines. Not a single death should happen due to pregnancy and childbirth. These preventable deaths could have been avoided if more Filipino women have had access to reproductive health information and health care.
According to the 2008 NDHS, only 44 percent of births occur in health facilities and only 62% of births are assisted by a health professional.10 Maternal deaths related to childbirth can be reduced further by access to skilled birth attendants which would be addressed by a comprehensive reproductive health care policy.

* To prevent infant mortality
Adequate birth spacing is important for the health of the woman and the children. Birth spacing of four or more years can increase the survival rate of children less than five years of age. The under-five mortality rate11 for children born less than two years after a previous birth is 54 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 25 deaths per 1,000 for children born after an interval of four or more years.

* To help individuals and couples choose freely and responsibly when to have children
Knowing which medically safe and effective methods of contraception to use will help individuals and couples determine freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children. This in turn should ensure that all children are wanted and loved and will be properly provided for by their parents.
The Constitution states that it shall “defend the right of spouses to form a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood” (Art. 15, Sec. 14). Every person must be free to make sexual and reproductive decisions according to her or his own conscience and religious beliefs free from interference, coercion or constraint.

* To reduce abortion rates
Increased access to information and services on modern contraceptive methods will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, eliminate the need for abortion, and prevent maternal deaths. It is unfortunate though that the proposed law that could reduce the number of abortions is being opposed by fundamentalist groups.
In the Philippines, there are half a million women who induce abortion procedures every year, 79,000 women who are admitted to hospitals for complications from unsafe abortion and there are 800 women dying from unsafe abortion. One-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion and twelve percent of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion.

* To give rape victims a better chance to heal from their ordeal
Giving rape victims access to emergency contraception (EC) like levonorgestrel can help them prevent unwanted pregnancies. The availability of Postinor, a brandname for levonorgestrel, has been prey to religious fundamentalist attack. Then Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez, Jr. issued a Position Paper in 1999 allowing its dispensation to rape victims through the hospital-based DOH network of Women and Children Protection Units (WCPU). Subsequently, however, Postinor was delisted by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and, despite requests for its re-registration, it has not been allowed to be registered again by the BFAD. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines EC as a method of preventing pregnancy. According to WHO, EC does not interrupt pregnancy, therefore, it is not considered a method of abortion.

* To prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases especially among adolescents
The Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Bill (RH bill) recommends that the government provide mandatory reproductive health education starting at Grade 5. According to our obligations under CEDAW, “teenage pregnancies…present a significant obstacle to girls’ educational opportunities and economic empowerment.” It is the government’s duty to “give priority attention to the situation of adolescents and that it provide sex education, targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
The CRC Committee recommended the urgent adoption of the RH Bill, to “ensure access to reproductive health counseling and provide all adolescents with accurate and objective information and culturally sensitive services in order to prevent teenage pregnancies, including by providing wide access to a broad variety of contraceptives without any restrictions and improving knowledge and conscience on family planning,” and to “strengthen formal and informal sex education, for girls and boys, focusing on the prevention of early pregnancies, STIs and family planning,” among other things.
Many adolescents are sexually active and are not practicing any contraceptive method. In 2008, there were 47 births for every 1000 women aged 15-19.28 According to the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study 3 (YAFS 3), by age 18, 10 % of young women would have been pregnant and by age 20, 25% would have already been pregnant. Twenty-six percent of women age 15-24 have already began child-bearing.
The knowledge of many adolescents on reproductive tract infections (RTIs), sexually transmitted Infections (STIs), and HIV/AIDS is at a superficial level. Adolescents should know the risks of early sex such as the different RTIs and the possibility of acquiring STIs and HIV/AIDS through unprotected and unsafe sex.
Risks of transmission during intimate sexual contact include infections to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes most cervical cancers. At their young age, adolescents are prone to HIV infections to HPV.

* To address the rising HIV/AIDS cases
The HIV epidemic in the Philippines is steadily growing. At the start of 2010, there are already four new cases being reported every month compared to the two new cases reported monthly in 2009. According to the estimates of Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC), there will be an additional 1,500 Filipinos newly-infected by HIV by December 2010 and around 4,000 - 7,000 by 2011.
A growing number of women are getting HIV at 28%. Of the 821 AIDS cases reported in 2009, more than half of sexual transmissions was through heterosexual contact (30% were women and 70% were men). An alarming 35% of OFWs with HIV are seafarers with a corresponding increase in the number of wives of seafarers infected with HIV.
Condoms and educational campaigns discussing the modes of HIV transmission, risky sexual behavior, and prevention and treatment of HIV are ways to address the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS in the country. Access to life-saving supplies including condoms, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and anti-retrovirals and access to information regarding HIV prevention and treatment will be made available through a comprehensive RH law.

* To avoid the negative impact of large families on poor families
For many poor families, a large family size results in further poverty and lack of access to education and health services, among others. There are also studies showing that the eldest or second eldest from poor, large families end up in prostitution to meet their families’ needs and many women from large families also end up being trafficked. http://news.abs-cbn.com/insights/08/16/10/reasons-why-we-need-rh-law Advantage of RH Law

One of the biggest problems of Philippine government is the increasing rate of poverty in our country. Less job opportunities, food and oil price hike, low family income are some of the reason of the increasing rate of poverty but for my own opinion, overpopulation is the major reason of it, having a big number of family members are the closest cause of poverty, they cannot sustain their everyday needs for each of the family member because of unavailability of a decent job or having a less income that can’t support their needs, but I have a solution to stop the overpopulation and prevent the continuous increase of poverty rate in our country, It’s RH Law. One of the content of RH Law is family planning that includes contraceptive methods; it can help to reduce the birth rate in a family that causes overpopulation. Contraceptive method can prevent the sperm cell of males and egg cell of females to meet because when the sperm and egg cell meet inside the reproductive organ of females they will later develop as a baby inside the mother’s womb.

The word “prevent” is not synonymous for “killing” the catholic church stand for using this method shows that using this method of preventing is a way of killing one’s life, they say that sperm and egg cells are the victim of this method, for me they doesn’t have a life yet they are only a part of a humans’ lives, so if they are saying that contraception can “kill” those cells then I consider that all teenagers, young adult, adult or even some of the elderly males are “killers” because it is a nature and normal for the males to “masturbate” and if the orgasm occur the semen will ejaculate from the males reproductive organ and the one content of semen are millions of sperm cells and in a matter of seconds the sperm cell will die if they are exposed to air, so we kill millions of it and “killing” is a mortal sin. “Killing” is only when the two cell are develop and formed as fetus then you terminate it and try to remove from your womb, that is already “killing” and it is called “Abortion”

Through RH Law, it can lessen the problems of the government with regards to the health of the Filipinos by preventing the spreading of AIDS in our country, it is very threatening that the number of Filipinos who are positive in AIDS is increasing, the usual victim of this syndrome are teenagers, they’re very active in engaging with sex maybe because of curiosity and lack of parents’ guidance, aside from AIDS they will also acquire various of sexually transmitted disease and infection but through RH Law, those diseases will be prevented by using contraceptives and education regarding sex, enough knowledge regarding these topic can lead to a healthier life and a problem free living. http://alvin0286.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/advantages-of-rh-bill-vs-anti-rh-bill-part-i/ The advantages of the RH Bill include the couple's choice in the number of children they may like; the selection of the family planning method they will use; and more importantly the reproductive health education they may derive from the proposed law.…...

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