Philippines Senate Debates RH and Pro-Life Bills Next Week

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2011   |   1:14PM   |   Manilla, Philippines

The Philippines Senate will debate two bills next week that touch on abortion issues as the Catholic Church and leading pro-life advocates continue opposing the RH bill because it would promote birth control that can sometimes cause abortions.

The Senate is expected to debate the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill as well as a measure put forward by pro-life lawmakers that would offer further protections for unborn children in the nation where abortion is not currently legal. The debate come after the committee on youth, women and family relations, chaired by Pia Cayetano, conducted a public hearing on the pro-life legislation.

According to the Philippine Star, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, an RH bill opponent, filed the pro-life measure and he told the newspaper the authors of the RH bill should remove the provisions in it that promote contraception and birth control.

“It was revealed that a significant number of these contraceptives are abortifacients,” Sotto said, telling the Star that he worries birth control that can cause abortions will be able to be purchased over the counter at pharmacies.

Sen. Ralph Recto agreed and told the paper, “You can’t pass the RH bill without determining which contraceptives are legal or not. Contraceptive products or medicines that could be abortifacients should carry warnings or labels (indicating such). There should be a list of services and medicine that are abortifacients or not.”

Cayetano told the newspaper she may combine the two bills in the committee report and promised the Rh bill would not promote abortion. She also said the committee report would not define which birth control methods are abortifacient in nature, saying that should be left up to the Food and Drug Administration.

“We should regulate its use and strengthen the FDA so that its use will not be abused,” Cayetano said.

The initial bill from earlier this year failed to pass on the final day of the legislative session of the Filipino House of Representatives. The bill was killed in 2010 and in previous years as well.

Recently, Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute detailed the problems with the RH bill.

Section 20, which fixes the “ideal” family size at two children, undermines the God-given right of couples to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. It will give further impetus to social engineering projects, already underway in the Philippine Department of Health and other government departments, to reduce family size. In our experience at PRI, any time a government sets population targets of any kind, it leads to human rights abuses.

But this is only the beginning of the mischief. Consider Section 13, which imposes on local government officials the obligation to enforce the provisions of the Act and “give priority to family planning work”. To this China hand, this sounds an awful lot like the PRC, where local officials are under constant pressure to reduce the birth rate, and do so by resorting to forced sterilizations, forced contraceptions and, all too often, forced abortions.

Another provision which could have been taken from Beijing’s playbook is Section 15, which sets up a so-called “Mobile Health Care Service,” and details how it will operate around the country. Apparently, as is the case in China, mobile sterilization teams will be brought in to do the dirty work of population control that local physicians, nearly all Catholic, find morally objectionable.

Incredibly, the proposed law even attempts to stifle dissent by Catholics and others by prohibiting the dissemination of “malicious disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act.” The “malicious disinformation” that the framers of the bill had in mind would presumably include—aside from my criticisms above—pointing out the simple truth that life begins at conception.