Philippine Government Officials + Electoral Candidates Who Support Women’s Reproductive Rights

Are you electing candidates who will safeguard your reproductive health?
PHOTO: istockphoto/Mixi Ignacio
Article Summary
  • History Hurdles Of Reproductive Health
  • Pushing For Implementation Of The RH Law
  • Did You Know These RH Realities?
  • Why Implementing RH Law Is So Important NOW
  • RH And Women Rights
  • Heroes And Advocates Of The RH Law
  • Who Voted Pro-RH Law In Its Passing
  • Who Voted Anti-RH Law In Its Passing

Reproductive Health in the Philippines has treaded such a rocky road. Seen as one of the most controversial measures deliberated by legislators, the RH Bill languished for 13 years in Congress before it was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2012. It was deemed one of the most divisive of measures deliberated by legislators.

At Cosmo, we totally agree that every Filipino woman—regardless of demographic and capacity—must have the right to make the most informed choices, with the best health care within her grasp.

History Hurdles Of Reproductive Health

2012: On December 21, 2012, then President Benigno Aquino III signed the Reproductive Health Bill into law, known as Republic Act 10354 or more popularly known as the “RH Law.”

2013: While the measure passed in 2012, it didn’t see such a smooth implementation afterward. Soon after passing to law, it was suspended by the Supreme Court (SC) in March 2013, following objections from religious groups and the more conservative voices of society.

Former Albay representative Edcel Lagman and now Senator Rissa Hontiveros were among the main authors of the RH Law. They, together with other lobbyists, congressmen, and senators who believe in the law have been pushing for the full implementation of the law ever since.

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2015: Still opposing the law further, an anti-RH group filed a petition with the SC in 2015 that aimed to stop the government’s purchase, sale, distribution, and administration of artificial contraceptives as well as halt their registration or re-certification.

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2016: In 2016, the SC kept to its temporary restraining order (TRO) on birth control implants, at least until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified that they were not abortifacients. However, the registration and re-certification of all other contraceptive methods were affected by all these delays.

Anti-RH legislators pushed for other methods to further slow the implementation of RH Law. In 2016, budget cuts were made, slashing P1 billion from the budget of the Department of Health (DOH), which had been targeted for the purchase of Family Planning products—condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and contraceptive injectables. It effectively barred poor women from access to contraceptives.

Pushing For Implementation Of The RH Law

2017: On January 9, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order calling for universal access to modern family planning methods. The document also called for accelerated implementation of the country’s RH Law.

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Then finally, in November 2017, the TRO was lifted and the ban on contraceptives was quashed. The path towards full implementation of a sound RH Law remains an upward struggle. While the recent wins are notable, the path towards effective RH Law implementation is far from clear.

In a country where outdated rules are largely misogynistic, protecting women’s reproductive rights is an important step towards true freedom and inclusive development.

Did You Know These RH Realities?

Whether the facts are born out of delays in legislation, the historical hurdles the law has endured, or the divisive nature of the dialogue, alarming statistics stand and should be duly and urgently addressed:

On teenage pregnancy, for instance, the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that one in 10 young Filipino women aged 15 to 19 has begun childbearing: eight percent were already mothers and another two percent were pregnant with their first child.

When it comes to maternal mortality, UNICEF says the lifetime risk of maternal death the Philippines is 1 in 140. This means that around 11 Filipino mothers die every day or an estimated 4,500 every year due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis, and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion.

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As for HIV rates, a February 2018 report of the Philippine Department of Health said that 11,103 new cases were reported in 2017, which is up by 19.85 percent from the 9,264 cases in 2016. Compared with the 342 HIV infections reported in 2007, the 2017 figure is 3,147 percent higher.

Why Implementing RH Law Is So Important NOW

These are just some of the glaring figures. Facts like these make implementing the law more crucial now than ever. The proponents of the law state that effective implementation of the RH Law would finally mean:

  • Access to information on natural and modern family planning
  • Improvement of maternal, infant, and child health and nutrition
  • Promotion of breastfeeding
  • Prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications
  • Improvement of adolescent and youth health
  • Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs
  • Elimination of violence against women
  • Counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health
  • Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers
  • Male involvement and participation in reproductive health issues
  • Prevention and treatment of infertility
  • Reproductive health education for the youth
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Generally, the law guarantees that the state provides universal access to reproductive sexual health information and services and methods as well as information on birth control and maternal care. The public surely has much to gain from implementing the RH Law. In full effect, it can empower women, reduce maternal deaths, promote health, alleviate poverty, and the like.

RH And Women Rights

If you’ll see the bulleted inclusions of the law above, a lot of the issues addressed in its provisions have to deal with women and how much control we have over our bodies and our reproductive choices. Pitting the realities against the provisions of the law, two key components stand out: information and access. These are indeed key in making the best decisions and choices for our bodies.

At Cosmo, we totally agree that every Filipino woman—regardless of demographic and capacity—must have the right to make the most informed choices, with the best health care within her grasp.

Continue reading below ↓

In a world where intelligent choice is often fueled by education and in a country where outdated rules are largely misogynistic, protecting women’s reproductive rights is an important step towards true freedom and inclusive development.

Heroes And Advocates Of The RH Law

Now that you know how crucial the RH Law is, a candidate’s stance about the RH Law is a substantial point for consideration when deciding who to vote for in the coming May 13 elections.

Make sure to cast a vote for heroes who align with your personal convictions—elected officials who will want the best for you and not deprive you of information or access. We won’t claim to dictate how you should lean, but we do encourage you to make your vote count, especially when it comes to your own reproductive rights.

Who Voted Pro-RH Law In Its Passing:

  • Former Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, and Teofisto Guingona II
  • Late senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Edgardo Angara, and Joker Arroyo
  • Incumbent Senators Panfilo Lacson, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Ralph Recto
  • Senatorial candidates Pia Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
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Who Voted Anti-RH Law In Its Passing:

  • Former Senators Manuel Villar, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Gregorio Honasan
  • Incumbent Senators Vicente Sotto III and Antonio Trillanes IV
  • Senatorial Candidates Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada

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