MANILA, Sept. 15, 2011–If contraceptives are only meant for birth control, then why are they tagged as “essential medicines” under the RH bill?
Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile asked this and other questions as the Senate resumed the period of interpellation for the controversial “reproductive health” (RH) bill Tuesday.
Enrile cited Section 9 of Senate Bill No. 2865 titled “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development,” which orders the inclusion of hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables, and “other safe, legal and effective family planning products and supplies” in the National Drug Formulary.
“These products and supplies shall also be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals, provincial, city, and municipal health offices, including rural health units,” the Senate version of the RH bill states.
The section is titled “Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines.”
Interpellating one of the RH bill sponsors, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Enrile noted that condoms do not cure anything while pills, injectables, and intrauterine devices work to prevent fertilization.
Enrile reiterated his belief that the RH bill is a population control measure disguised as a health measure, since “You cannot reduce the size of the family without reducing the population of the country.”
“There is no coercion but the result is population control,” he said.
Aiding Cayetano, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, also an RH sponsor, said birth control, the supposed aim of the bill, was different from population control. The former allows women to control the number of children while in the latter, the State uses its power to reduce the population, particularly those of the unfit.
Enrile, however, pointed out that the RH bill is particularly aimed at the poor.
“This is a law where the state itself intervenes in the size o the family. It is cleverly devised and disguised as a health measure. It is not health, it’s reproductive health, a very specific kind of health,” he said.
He asked: “Why zero in on reproductive health? How many people have died of dengue, malaria, cancer of the breast, cancer of the cervix, cancer of the uterus, hypertension, stroke, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, dysentery?”
Explaining why the poor was being targeted by the RH bill, Cayetano claimed they are being discriminated against when it comes to access to contraceptives.
Families should be allowed to space births, she said, as “pregnancy is a burden,” a “physical, emotional, financial burden.” (Dominic Francisco)