RH Bill Is Unnecessary

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MANILA, Philippines - HB No. 5043, entitled "An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for Other Purposes," more commonly known as the RH Bill is unnecessary and superfluous.

We do not need the RH Bill. We have enough laws and the executive branch has sufficient administrative powers to enforce what the vaunted RH Bill purports to provide. In particular, there is RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, which was approved and signed into law on August 14, 2009, and affirmed by its Implementing Rules and Regulations approved on March 30, 2010.

The RH Bill purports to claim as a guiding principle "gender equality of women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population development," among other things. Section 2, Chapter 1 of the Magna Carta declares as a policy that "the State affirms the role of women in nation building and ensures the substantive equality of women and men." Further it says that it "shall promote the empowerment of women...the State affirms women's rights as human rights and shall intensify its efforts to fulfil its duties under international and domestic law to recognize, respect, protect, fulfil, and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms of women..."

Section 17, Chapter 14 renders the RH Bill moot and redundant with its detailed description of "Women's Right to Health" i.e., "The State shall, at all times, provide for a comprehensive, culture-sensitive, and gender-responsive health services and programs covering all stages of a woman's life cycle and which addresses the major causes of women's mortality and morbidity: Provided, That in the provision for comprehensive health services, due respect should be accorded to women's religious convictions, the rights of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood, and the right of women to protection from hazardous drugs, devices, interventions and substances."

The RH Bill rules as essential medicines "hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectibles and other allied reproductive health products and supplies..." but fails to consider that certain contraceptives have been found to be cancer-prone, and certain devices and injectibles are harmful to women. …