MANILA, Sept. 21, 2011–Is the push for RH a case of “sleeping with the enemy?”
An international agency notorious for promoting coercive population control worldwide had given funding to a pro-RH lobbyist to speed up the passage of the controversial bill, a lawmaker bared Tuesday.
The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) gave money to the lobby group Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) to help in “nurturing” legislators as well as to expedite the passage of the “reproductive health” (RH) bill, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said as he continued his interpellation of the sponsors of Senate Bill No. 2865, or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development.”
Documents showed that Junice Melgar, president of the non-government group Likhaan, has solicited money for RHAN, an umbrella organization of pro-RH lobbyists.
“It appears that UNFPA has participated in this bill through RHAN and Likhaan. Why am I am concerned? … [A US government] investigation [had] found that UNFPA was complicit in the coercive implementation of China’s one-child policy,” Sotto said.
The US government cut funding for UNFPA in 2001 because of the agency’s support for “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Sotto added.
Lawmakers have blasted the RH bill for its population-control aims, as evidenced by its full title and the fact that it had been crafted by the population committee in the House of Representatives.
While overtly against abortion, which is a crime in the Philippines, the RH bill requires the government to ensure treatment for “all women needing care for post-abortion complications.” Critics have warned against the entry of abortion drugs and devices through the bill, which seeks to classify family planning products and supplies as “essential medicines.”
The term “reproductive health” is internationally accepted as including access to abortion, as attested to by US State Secretary Hillary Clinton before the US Congress in 2009.
The World Health Organization’s model listing of essential medicines, meanwhile, includes RU-486 or mifepristone and misoprostol – abortion drugs banned in the Philippines.
Likhaan’s website features a book which openly promotes “safe abortion.” The book recommends both mifepristone and misoprostol: “Mifepristone (RU-486). Mayroon nito sa ilang bansa at ginagamit na pampalaglag ng mga babae na hanggang 9 na linggong buntis. Tableta ito na iniinom sa mga klinika o ospital. Pagkalipas ng 2 araw, may binibigay na ikalawang gamot, ang misoprostol, na iniinom o nilalagay sa loob ng puwerta.”
Sotto also showed a video of Melgar stating in an interview about women seeking abortions: “Eventually we give them information about safe abortion. We also warn them against unsafe pregnancy.”
Asked whether she knew of “safe service providers,” Melgar said: “Yes, I think most women NGOs have contacts,” referring to “underground services.”
Sotto said RH advocates may have been “sleeping with the abortionists, sleeping with the enemy.”
One of the RH sponsors, Sen. Pia Cayetano, said: “None of those who presented themselves in [public] hearings [for the RH bill] support abortion.”
Later on, she argued that it was not illegal to talk about abortion, claiming there are 500,000 induced abortions in the Philippines annually.
During the Sept. 6 floor debate, however, the “500,000 a year” figure, was found to be the product of mere “extrapolations” done by the Guttmacher Institute and the UP Population Institute and was therefore not necessarily accurate. The New York-based Guttmacher Institute is the former research arm of the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion services in the US.
In the same debate, Cayetano admitted that the “11 mothers die every day” statistic — which was discovered to be based on old data — was simply “a phrase used by NGOs to drive home the point.” (Dominic Francisco)