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The RH Bill: Call a Spayed a Spayed


Why Does It Need to Be a Law?

First off, I just really don't see why this has to be a law. I mean, people are free to buy condoms at 7-11, pills at Mercury, etc. People already have that choice.

The RH bill, contrary to popular belief, does not give people a choice. It forces ALL employers to provide their employees with contraceptives, it forces all doctors to provide contraceptive procedures if wanted by a patient (else the doctor is forced to refer this to another doctor), it forces all children to attend sex ed classes as early as Gr.5, it forces all taxpayers to subsidize for contraceptives for all (P5 billion annual allocation), it forces everyone not to talk about the RH law and "disinform" others, among other provisions.

Yes, I say "forced" because if you do not do these, you suffer the penalty of imprisonment up to six months and fines that reach up to P100,000.
Quite evidently then, the RH bill is not pro-choice. It is a mechanism that will result in forcing quite a substantial number of citizens beyond their religious, moral, and ethical beliefs. Something sacred that is enshrined in our Constitution and constitutions the world over. It's a common principle known as non-establishment and freedom of religious exercise.

So to all those who support the RH bill, I ask you once again. Why does this have to be a law?

*Legislative Transparency

I agree that the bill has its good points. My grave concern, however, being a senior law student at UP Law, is that the bill contains too many riders, i.e. insertions that would and could render the entire essence of the law dangerous.

And don't be deceived by Edcel Lagman's claims of the provisions I mentioned above have been repealed/amended. They still appear in the latest HB 4244. Amendments occur after interpellation. (Even Rep. Pacquiao was keen enough to point this out.) Lagman is playing stealthy strategy here to get these measures passed without notice. It's how riders get through. (Remember Villar's scandal aboutdouble entries in his law? Riders.)

If we go back to the very basics, the very name of the bill does not conform to its contents. That is the most basic lesson taught to all first year law students in Constitutional law. Law-makers, I believe, should know this as their ABC's. Simple example: How can "Reproductive Health" include measures to provide the population with the pill? No less than the DOH has stated the No.1 cause of death of Filipinas is breast cancer in this last decade.

No less than former DOH Secretary Cabral has admitted the pill has a propensity to cause breast cancer. How do we reconcile that with Reproductive "Health"? (Do we even know the effects of the pill on a malnourished female?) And what of vasectomy and ligation? I'm not a doctor, but it pretty much looks like you take away the reproductive system there altogether.

I guess my point is, let's all be real here. Let's stop the justifications for this current RH bill because let's face it, the bill is all over the place. It calls itself this but it's that. And when "that" is argued, the bill is suddenly about something else. It's a messy bill that contains too many things. Why not just break it down into, say, three bills? One entitled, "Population Control," "Maternal Health," and "Information Drive on Family Management"? Call a spade a spade.

In that way, the issues aren't convoluted and mashed into one. Because these are all different issues. And moreover, we can properly see where the budget allocation will go, and law-makers can properly vote on which issues they believe is best for our country. (Not a single value meal worth P5 billion annually that contains all three issues on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.)

I only hope for a more a transparent and honest law-making body. Let us not forget that transparency is not only required of the Executive department or the Judiciary, but also of the Legislative body. (The author is currently on his 5th year, studying at the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Law. He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in AB Economics.)

By Leo L. Quesada

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