The Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare Inc. (PNGOC) a national umbrella organization with 95 member national and local based NGOs involved in the promotion of reproductive health care such as maternal and child health, family planning, men’s reproductive health, women empowerment, STI/HIV/AIDS, sexuality education, reproductive and sexual health and gender and development supports the passage of the bill filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago which calls for the enactment of a law on reproductive health.
PNGOC believes that this bill compels the state to guarantee universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information for all couples. It will give access, without bias, all modern methods of family planning and thus provide timely, complete and accurate information on reproductive health and thus mandates all local government units to appropriate funds for reproductive health services.
The bill will save the lives of mothers and children. Currently, there are 11 women dying every twenty-four hours due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Thus, the Philippines have one of the highest Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Asia. These deaths can be avoided if more Filipino women have access to reproductive health information and health care. The Philippines also has more than 60% of pregnancies classified as high-risk (2003 National Demographic and Health Survey). Based on the Family Planning Survey of 2006, 2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but lack information and access to do so. The bill can prevent early pregnancies; unwanted pregnancies and abortion by helping reducing the number of abortions by providing access to information and services on modern contraceptive methods that in turn will reduce the number of unwanted and often aborted pregnancies in the country.
The bill is for responsible parenthood. PNGOC believes that each couple has the right and responsibility to control conception according to their personal circumstances. They are, in our view, free to use any means of birth control considered medically safe and acceptable. We believe that the RH bill can provide adequate accessibility to comprehensive health care and nutrition to help ensure a healthy family and thus gives every Filipino respect and self-determination by ensuring that there is an enabling environment where Filipino can make their own informed decision on how to raise their own family, without coercion or fear. The bill will enable every individual and couples the right whether or not they want to have children, how many children they will have and the space between their births through an effective reproductive health program.
PNGOC believes it is the role of the government to provide programs on reproductive health information and services, regardless of who sits as President, Cabinet or Local Government official. Having a legislated policy on RH can help our constituents in providing them complete, accurate and relevant information on Reproductive Health. It will also provide opportunity for young people to develop and understand their values, attitudes and beliefs about their sexuality. Furthermore, it will also help the young people develop relationships and harness their interpersonal skills and help the youth exercise their responsibility regarding sexual relationships, intercourse and the use of contraception and other sexual health measures.
Philippine NGO Council will continue to promote to all its networks of NGOs, partner organizations and communities nationwide to support for a Reproductive Health Care Act.