Too Many Mouths to Feed: The Case for Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines

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Due to an unbridled population growth rate of almost 2% and a total fertility rate of 3.19, the Philippines breached the 100 millionth population mark in July 2011, making it the 12th most populous country in the world. These figures are truly disappointing, especially if we compare the Philippines to similar Asian countries with population control programs such as Indonesia and Thailand. In a country where the Roman Catholic Church is highly influential, a proposed “Reproductive Health (RH) Bill” that will make modern contraceptive methods available to poor women for free, flounders in legislative purgatory. The Church condemns this bill, calling it “secularist and materialistic.” In the meantime, the country’s population will reach 150 million by 2050, making it the 11th most populous country in the world.

Compared to neighboring Asian countries, progress in the Philippines has been slower, and poverty rate remains higher at 26.5%. Bad policies and corruption are clearly causal. However, the country’s population explosion certainly plays a role by reducing growth in per capita income and promoting unemployment.

The unmet need for modern contraceptives in the country is among the highest in the world. The current rate of 22% puts it among poor African nations.  More than half of current pregnancies are unintended resulting to about 0.9 million induced abortions and 3,500 maternal deaths a year.

The country needs to rally behind its legislators to get this bill passed. Opposition from the Church can be surmounted by mass media advocacy. Civil society groups and key government agencies should embark on a social marketing campaign promoting the merits of modern family planning techniques to counteract the Church’s negative impact.

It’s RH Bill now, or the country will forever be left behind in the Dark Ages.

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3 Responses to “Too Many Mouths to Feed: The Case for Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines”

  1. castroiris15 Says:

    With the Philippines being the third largest Catholic nation in the world, it’s no surprise that many citizens would be inclined to side with the views of the Church in frowning upon distribution of contraceptives. However, with the current mindset of the Filipino youth combined with the lack of sex education and poverty, one cannot expect the population explosion to be controlled without proper support and continued maintenance.
    It is only necessary to help curb the growth of the population by properly informing citizens of the potential consequences of unwanted pregnancies. Many women and girls have the thought that “It won’t happen to me” and yet they find themselves in the predicament of having an unintended pregnancy. With proper education about contraceptive methods and the self-confidence to initiate use, these small actions can go a long way in lowering the number of unintended pregnancies and paving the way for habits of good family planning.
    Proper education in terms of planned parenthood with great consideration taken for one’s socioeconomic status will go a long way in easing the burden on a country which traditionally has always had a high number of children per family.
    Although many advocate for the overall health of Filipino citizens, politics and corruption play a major role in the hindrance of the promotion of health for the Filipino people. Unfortunately, corruption is something that is very difficult to do away in a country laden with poverty. It will be a great step for the Philippines towards increasing the status of its people as a united nation if there was some way to help mitigate its great problem of corruption. I believe that once the Filipino people get a taste of how it is to live in a place which places great concern for overall health and well-being, they can all move towards bettering their socioeconomic status to help propel the Philippines to a level comparable to that of its neighboring Asian countries.

  2. vanruales Says:

    I am Filipino and Catholic, and I am very well aware of this problem in the country. It is infuriating how the Catholic church opposes a bill that is very rational and could help our government help our country from progressive decline. Being against a very reasonable policy should not be taken just as it is, the CBCP SHOULD present their proposition on how to address this problem. Re: the fear of social decay and deterioration brought about by leniency to contraception, I believe it is the core responsibility of the family, followed by the school to instill morals and values to in raising children (as I have mentioned in my cervical cancer comment). Individuals with integrity and strong ideals, have better outlook in life, and are more conscientious in their actions (e.g., finishing school), backed by the church’s strong spiritual influence. If promiscuity is simply inevitable with the current generation, resulting in unwanted pregnancies – abortions vs population growth, we might as well implement the bill that will help control this population explosion. But this definitely needs to be coupled with education re: the repercussions of unprotected intercourse as well as encouraging appropriate parental guidance that is reinforced by the school and the church. The church regardless has to choose which one is the lesser evil, supporting the contraception bill which MIGHT encourage promiscuity versus opposing it which will most likely result in unwanted pregnancies and ABORTIONS – prematurely ending the life of the unborn who also has the right to life.

  3. vanruales Says:

    …”alternative propositions”…

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