Tag Archive | "reproductive health bill"

FF Podcast (Audio) 32: Flesh-Eating Disease in the Philippines?

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast 32:Flesh-Eating Disease in the Philippines

This week, we talk about the story propagated by ABS-CBN’s Bandila program regarding a supposed mysterious flesh-eating disease engulfing Pangasinan.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast (Audio) 010: Pro-RH at SC and Advice for Atheists with Religious Parents

Pro-RH at SC and Advice for Atheists with Religious Parents

The Filipino Freethinkers’ Podcast-that-is-also-a-Video is back! For its tenth episode, Red, Pepe, and Margie talk about the pro-RH presence at the recent Supreme Court hearings on the RH Law, and–in a Podcast-that-is-also-a-Video first–answer an online query about living with religious parents. Press play and enjoy!

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Politics, Religion, SecularismComments (0)

Bullets and Dogma: A Musing on Religiously Inspired Misogyny

A few weeks ago, Taliban gunmen stopped a bus carrying students home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, singled out Malala Yousufzai, and shot her.

Her crime was advocating for women’s education – which the Taliban banned – and for openly speaking out against their atrocities through her blog.

The good news is that as you read this, Malala is on the road to recovery, while the Taliban are being rightfully condemned for their act of brutality and cowardice; it says a lot about how insane a group is, when they think a girl who just wants to go to school is a justification for them to shoot people in the face.

But as I look at the outrage, the sympathy, and at the end of it all, the hope getting mixed into Malala’s story, and I look at the reactions from the Philippines’ own community at the whole thing – which is thankfully supportive – I just have to ask…

Are we really any different?

Because in their own way, the women of the Philippines are under threat from bearded, out-of-touch, religious conservatives who abide by silly religious laws, and run around in sillier robes. These people are intent on stifling not only women’s access to quality education, but also their ability to simply speak up and criticize them.

And the magic is that unlike the Taliban, they don’t have to whip out a gun to get the job done. So how did they do it? Let’s look at some of their more recent examples:

1. Resorting to erudite rhetoric that celebrates the fact that their morally superior university doesn’t put up with liberal nonsense such as dissent, free thought, critical thinking, or scientific facts. God was apparently so touched by this show of devotion that he forgot to bless their last game.

2. Legislators bravely stating the truths of the RH Bill while in senate, buying time for their side, not to mention creating a new, proudly Pinoy meme along the way.

Fearlessly speaking against the Magna Carta of Women, which removes their god-given right to eject pregnant students from getting a proper education. Who has a time for school (much less a decent job), when you have to raise a kid before you’ve turned 18, right?

4. Righteously defending their right to condemn the evils of lesbians, a fine trend that they and like-minded predecessors have done for decades.

5. Selflessly sacrificing whatever esteem and respect they had left to support the cybercrime law under the guise of defending people against bullying. After all, calling out an anti-gay/anti-woman bigot for being an intolerant asshole can be painful to their self-esteem.

6. Heroically citing that none other than our national hero, Jose Rizal, would never condone providing women with better access to family planning education.

Who needs bullets when you have a few well-chosen words and the support of powerful, religiously devout, but ultimately imbecilic leaders in politics and educational institutions to shape society according to your whims?

I’m not writing this to reduce any of the much-deserved attention that Malala is getting for herself and a woman’s right to education in Pakistan. What I am simply saying is that as we read about what happens to her, we shouldn’t dismiss it as just a story being told in a foreign land thousands of miles away.

It’s similar to the story of our women here, except that the attempt to murder them comes in inches. The perpetrators do this through through the denial of a woman’s right to proper academic and reproductive education, and through the poisoning of society’s opinion about providing better awareness regarding their rights.

And that is just as deadly – if not deadlier – than a few grams of copper-jacketed lead.

“In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Do Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Bread From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs.” – Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Personal, Religion, RH Bill, SocietyComments (2)

Tanod Tells Truth About Anti-RH Lies

We interviewed Tanod/BPSO Arsenio Dela Cruz Jr. today about his encounter with Rizalito David and the anti-RH camp. This confirms once and for all that the anti-RH lied about having permits, and then lied about lying about having permits to demonstrate at SB park.

This also reveals yet another lie: Rizalito David claimed to the tanod that he was a lawyer. As you might have guessed, nowhere in Mr. David’s WikiPilipinas page does it say that he is a lawyer. What it should say is that he is also an Old Snake himself.

Posted in Media, Politics, SocietyComments (10)

Win Php25,000 in Mulat Pinoy’s “We Are RH” video contest

Win Php25,000 in Mulat Pinoy’s “We Are RH” video contest
PRESS RELEASE: Win Php25,000 in Mulat Pinoy’s “We Are RH” video contest
Amateur filmmakers are invited to submit short films on reproductive health.

Do you wish your videos were on TV instead of YouTube? Looking for extra cash to buy that nice phone? Hoping for your own cool video camera? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for.

Join “We are Right Here. We are RH.”! This amateur video contest aims to bring into the limelight young people’s take on responsible parenthood, reproductive health, and population and development.

Finalists’ videos entries will be featured in a TV special to be aired on one of the most prestigious networks in the country, the ABS-CBN News Channel. The producers and directors of the winning video clips will also be interviewed. Selected entries shall also be aired on the Knowledge Channel program, Peliculab.

Aside from fame and nationwide reach, winners shall also get the following cash prizes: Php 25,000 for the First Prize, Php 15,000 for the Second Prize and P10,000 for the Third Prize. They will also receive trophies, and video cameras from Creative Zen.

A special citation award shall be given by the United Nations Population Fund to one entry that best embodies their theme for 2011, “The World at 7 Billion.” The winner of this special award will receive P15,000, a video camera and a trophy. UNFPA will also use the selected video entry in their 7 Billion information campaign.

So, if you are 25 years old or younger, muster your creative energies and shoot the video that reflects your views. It can be about anything, not just the RH Bill: the use of condoms, family planning, sex education, overpopulation, virginity, STDs, AIDS. Be it a public service announcement or a commercial, a mini-documentary, animation or a dramatic scene, you have the freedom to speak your mind the best way you know how.

Join the discussion. Let your voice be heard. And let Mulat Pinoy be the channel for your shout-out to the world. Join “We are Right Here. We are RH.”

Regina Layug-Rosero
Project Coordinator, Mulat Pinoy
Email: HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected], HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected]
Web: HYPERLINK “http://www.mulatpinoy.ph/wearerh” http://www.mulatpinoy.ph/wearerh
Telephone: (+632) 4330456

Mulat Pinoy "We Are RH" video contest

Posted in Announcements, Press ReleasesComments (0)

Reproductive Health Bill Revisited

If I remember it right, it’s been already a decade of almost nonstop controversy regarding the reproductive health and contraceptives issue. The earliest that I could remember was how Mayor Lito Atienza came under fire for banning Manila public clinics from distributing free contraceptives and teaching any other methods of contraception other than natural family planning, which is the only “contraception” method espoused by his religion. Human Rights Watch HIV program research, Jonathan Cohen, even went far in saying that “the Philippines is courting an AIDS epidemic with its anti-condom approach…the casualties will be millions of people who cannot protect themselves from HIV infection“. Lito Atienza and his wife may have had pro-life projects that truly helped impoverished women, especially those who suffered from post-abortion trauma, but still, their anti-contraceptiion stance is immovable.

And such stance has pervaded, unfortunately, some of the country’s lawmakers. For this reason, the fate of the Reproductive Health Bill, hangs in a balance.

And unfortunately, the anti-RH force is moving heaven and earth just so that this bill will not be passed.

But what is it in the Reproductive Health Bill that has enraged the Catholic clergy?

I have actually written about this particular subject several years ago (see “What the RCC hates in the RH act“). But, since this bill has gone some revisions, we shall try to review it again, during the course of which I’ll try to dismantle the misinformation being propagated by the so-called “pro-lifers” (who have more than successfully hijacked the term just so to gain unfair advantage over their opponents).

The elements of reproductive health care that are being espoused by the bill are as follows:

    family planning information and services;
    maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;
    proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;
    adolescent and youth reproductive health;
    prevention and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections elimination of violence against women;
    education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;
    treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;
    male responsibility and participation in reproductive health;
    prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction;
    reproductive health education for the adolescents
    mental health aspect of reproductive health care.

But for this post, I shall be limiting myself in those concepts that has lighted the fire under our beloved clergy’s butts.

1) Family planning information and services

Beloved Catholic clergy did not want taxpayers’ money to fund public health clinics giving out pamphlets and lectures regarding modern artificial contraceptives. Neither does it want it to be giving away free contraceptives. The clergy wanted ONLY natural methods of family planning to be endorsed and taught by these clinics. The clergy has successfully convinced some of its members to disagree with the bill by cleverly insinuating that their taxes go to activities deemed immoral by their church (not considering that NOT everybody in this country belong to their church). And so the statements, “I will not allow the government to use my taxes to pay for your condom” and “let them buy their own condoms”. Well, the idea is to help out the impoverished who cannot afford to buy contraceptives. For those who do not know, contraceptives are considered essential medicines (see section 18, WHO list of essential medicines March 2010 update). The WHO list of essential medicines is a list of minimum medicines needs for a basic health care system. If the clergy wanted to prevent contraceptives from being able in a basic health care unit, then they are, basically, preventing the government from addressing basic health care needs.

The clergy is also frowning upon the use of IUDs and tubal ligation as contraceptive measures. What most of them are blind to is the provision in the bill that these procedures will not be FORCED upon women, but rather, it would be made available to those who may wish to have these procedures.

    SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning
    All accredited health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on an optional basis. For poor patients, such services shall be fully covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and/or government financial assistance on a no balance billing.
    After the use of any PhilHealth benefit involving childbirth and all other pregnancy-related services, if the beneficiary wishes to space or prevent her next pregnancy, PhilHealth shall pay for the full cost of family planning. 

    SEC. 11. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies
    The DOH shall spearhead the efficient procurement, distribution to LGUs and usage-monitoring of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate LGUs to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotment shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following:
    (a) number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children;
    (b) contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and
    (c) cost of family planning supplies.

    SEC. 24. Right to Reproductive Health Care Information
    The government shall guarantee the right of any person to provide or receive non-fraudulent information about the availability of reproductive health care services, including family planning, and prenatal care.
    The DOH and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness of the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including family planning and population and development.

2) Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications

As early as now, I’m going to say there is nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) in the reproductive health bill that is espousing abortion (abortion being “expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable”, according to an online medical dictionary). The bill, rather, wants to strengthen postabortion care. Now, some will say this is indirectly encouraging women to have abortion. But I’m going to stop you right there. Every woman who has had an abortion, whether spontaneous or induced, whether the abortion hurts you as a believer or not, has a right to obtain good postabortion care.

I remember how it was in the different hospitals I have rotated before…girl coming to the hospital complaining of vaginal bleeding and by history, it was evident that she had induced abortion. Health care providers, then, would be rough and tough on her, just so she’d remember the pain and thus, “remember the lesson”. And some even threatened to be denied anesthesia during curettage, just so they’d break down and cry, the health care provider thinking she’d someday learn to keep herself from getting pregnant again, having more than 5 children or so at the tender age of 20. I remember crying at the time I assisted in the vaginal delivery of a 12-year old girl, a pregnancy that was a product of rape of her father. I remember her as a pained girl, who was so restless on the delivery table, not knowing what to do and too much in pain even to think, as the ob-gyne resident shouted down on her to keep her legs apart. “Ayoko na po! Ayoko na po!” were the words she had ceaselessly shouted until she was able to deliver her baby. I imagined it must be the same set of words that she have shouted back to her father while she was being raped.

No, I’m not saying that this girl should have outright abortion because of rape. But if reproductive health assistance are in place, she could have had proper prenatal care and a planned cesarean section would have been done, as her body frame is so small, she might be better off with a C-section rather than risking a vaginal delivery. However, she did not have prenatal care and the only consultation with a health professional that she had was when she was already in active labor. Or she could have had emergency contraception hours after the attack on her.

For you Anti-RH doctors out there, I don’t understand why you still can’t agree to pass the RH bill, with all that you’ve seen since medical school and clerkship. I bet almost everyone of you has rotated in government hospitals. You have seen the numerous poor pregnant women who have come in and out of these hospitals. You have heard their stories, of how they wanted only few children, but were stuck with 10 or more because they cannot refuse a husband asking for sex. You must have heard how most of these women would say they cannot complete their prenatal care because they’d rather spend on food and electricity than on transportation to hospital and medicines. You have seen how some of the health providers in these government hospitals have been rough and tough on these women, just so that they remember the pain and hardship enough to make them think twice before going into another pregnancy. You have seen the scope of how access to reproductive health medicines and procedures are sorely lacking in this country. How can you not agree with the passage of the bill? Because of your alma mater? Because of your religious convictions? This is not an issue of religion; this is a secular issue. Let these women have their choice!

3) Reproductive health education for the adolescents
The clergy keeps on asking, “do you want your children as young as 5 years old to learn about sex?” My answer to this is YES. Whether parents would be honest to themselves or not, one cannot deny the curiosity of a growing child. Yes, even at the young age of 5, kids do already have some questions related to gender and sex. As the kids grow older, the questions grow more mature and complicated. And it is the responsibility of parents to address these questions. But not every parent can be comfortable discussing sex with their children. Come on, be honest with yourselves. Have you ever discussed sex at any length with your mother/father? The all-too-common scenario at home is this: parent and youngster watching a movie on TV, then a kissing scene comes up. Father/mother brings up one hand to cover youngster’s eyes until the scene ended. “Don’t look, you’re too young for this!” And the youngster is either left bewildered at why he shouldn’t see those scenes or he already knows what those scenes are because he already saw movie at a friend’s house. Most Filipino parents would be just content at “screening out” the topic of sex without ever venturing into trying to give the appropriate knowledge to their kids. And unfortunately, these kids would learn about sex and reproduction through friends only. Talk about the blind leading the blind. And it is at this point that the whole barrage of misinformation and myths start and sometimes will culminate into teen pregnancy or other complications regarding relationship with another person.

And here comes the clergy telling us that only the parents should teach their kids about sex.

In the amended reproductive health bill:

    SEC. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education
    Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life skills and other approaches… 

    …Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education.

I’m not sure where the clergy got the idea that the kids will be forced to attend sex education classes. It is rather clear that the parents have the option to let their children attend these classes. However, in my opinion, children as young as those in the 5th grade should have these classes already. Fifth graders are usually in the age of 11-12 years old and this age is the start of puberty. With many changes in their bodies, these children should be enlightened and armed with knowledge they need to understand these changes.

There is still plenty left to be discussed regarding the reproductive health bill, now that the clergy and their loyal followers are so hell-bent on obstructing the passage of this bill into law. This has also brought out the worst in some people, even if they think they mean well and are only fighting for what they think is right. However, what we must remember that reproductive health bill shouldn’t even be an issue anymore. Every country needs a good reproductive health care available to its citizens. We have our own personal beliefs regarding it, whether it be religious or not. But reproductive health is a secular issue and citizens must decide on this with the objective that the laws to be passed should be beneficial and appropriate to EVERYONE in the country.

Please see these related articles:

Complete Reproductive Health Bill Text http://rhbill.org/about/rh-bill-text/
Authors’ Amendments to HB 4244 http://rhbill.org/about/amendments-hb4244/

My older posts regarding the issue:
What the RCC hates in the Rh act http://prudencemd.com/?p=488
Family planning will be taught in classes in qc http://prudencemd.com/?p=428
Courting health disaster with Philippines’ anti-condom policies http://prudencemd.com/?p=396
The blog rounds: The State of Reproductive health in the Philippines http://prudencemd.com/?p=492

Posted in Science, SocietyComments (70)

National misogynist hero

Manny Pacquiao“I don’t want to use a condom. Using a condom means I’m just using you for sex.”

That’s what my friend’s boyfriend told her when she suggested protection. She thought it was romantic. When he found out she was on the pill, he was insulted and asked her, “Why? Are you afraid of having my baby?” After they broke up, during the requisite mourning period, I listened to her talk about the highlights of her just-ended relationship, and concluded the guy was a chauvinist ass. She had no idea, for some reason, and the fact that I could still see his douchiness despite her sugar-coating (she still liked him) meant he must’ve been more of an ass than I could determine from what she was telling me.

That was almost a decade ago. Since then, my observations of my friends’ relationships have brought me to the conclusion that there were more guys like that out there. And these friends are mostly from middle-income families, and dated men who were more or less in the same income bracket, with the same level of education. I remember when I was little, I asked our laundrywoman why she had so many kids. She told me that whenever she refused to sleep with her husband, he’d accuse her of having an affair, so she just gives in to him. She didn’t even mention contraception or family planning, and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t too aware of either their existence or that they applied to her. I’m tempted to generalize and say that my friend’s ex’s and our laundrywoman’s husband’s attitude is typical of Filipino men’s attitude towards women’s choices regarding reproduction and sexuality, but I won’t because (1) I want to be an optimist, and (2) I like to hang out with more enlightened men, and these guys make me optimistic.

And then Manny Pacquiao decided to join the Reproductive Health Bill debate.

An undisputed national hero and distinguished gentleman representative from Sarangani, Manny Pacquiao was staunchly against the RH Bill. He quoted the Bible, and said, in effect, that any attempts to curb reproduction was against the will of his god. While we’re not sure how the personal religious beliefs of this pregnancy-challenged man have to do with us uterus-carrying citizens, people pointed out that his wife Jinkee has admitted to being on the pill. Now he’s bragging that he made his wife Jinkee stop taking pills and have more kids. (I wonder if my friend would’ve found this romantic too.)

Now if Cong. Pacquiao’s constituents meant to elect someone who insists on controlling his wife’s reproductive health choices, I suppose that’s democracy for you. What puzzles me is this: Pacquiao is an international superstar. He has fans all over the globe. He’s a celebrity’s celebrity; Hollywood big shots are falling over themselves to meet him. Why oh why does he not have the sense to hire — or listen to — a public relations agent or firm who will tell him that this sort of misogynist douchbaggery isn’t going to be good for his reputation? Granted, it’s nothing close to Mike Tyson’s conviction for rape, but for us Filipinos, this is an insult to women in general, and not because Pacquiao’s a boxing superstar but because he is an elected public servant who is tasked to improve the lives of his constituents — male and female. It’s difficult to expect him to protect women’s rights and welfare when he seems unconcerned about flaunting his blatant sexism all over the place.

The Pacquiaos are luckier than most Filipino couples — they actually have the choice of buying any form of legal contraceptive there is. Hell, they can buy an entire condom factory if they want to. Not everyone has that luxury. A lot of families are so poor they can barely afford three meals a day, much less birth control pills (mine are less than PhP 50 for a whole month’s pack) or condoms. The Reproductive Health Bill is mostly to help them, to give them a choice on whether to have 1, 2 or a dozen children. Or none, if that’s what they prefer. And the Pacquiaos can afford to feed, clothe and spoil the heck out of their four children. If they have two dozen more kids, the Pacquiaos can give each of them a mansion with servants. Thousands of families in the Philippines can barely afford to feed theirs. All Cong. Pacquiao can talk about is his god’s will, not even trying to propose solutions to the problems of families having to feed more kids than they can afford. Or the problem of an average of 11 women dying every day due to birth complications. Not all those who are anti-RH Bill are opposed to artificial contraceptives in general, and they don’t have to be. Cong. Pacquiao didn’t have to flaunt his staunch opposition to pills, but he seems to be trying to show off for his church’s bishops, so much so that his wife’s reproductive choices had to get dragged into this. Jinkee Pacquiao now says she’s against the RH Bill and that she has stopped taking pills. Her husband says they fought over the issue of her taking pills, but that they’re of one mind now concerning the issue of contraception, and one wonders if Manny Pacquiao, national hero and boxing superstar, will make sure to get her pregnant soon just to prove it.

Tania writes about stuff at The Entropy Blog.

Jinkee Pacquiao says Pacman didn’t know she took birth control pills before – Spot.PH
Pacquiao: Jinkee and I fought over RH bill – Yahoo! news
Pacquiao slips RH advocates’ jab on Jinkee’s pill use – Inquirer.NET
Pacquiao opposes RH bill while Jinkee pops birth control pills – Philippine News
Jinkee stopped taking birth control pills, Pacquiao says – GMA News

Posted in Featured, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (111)

FF Podcast (Audio) 005: Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance vs. RH

In this episode we recap what happened at the public hearing on the Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance that, among other things, required prescriptions for contraceptives — even condoms.

We talk about how the ordinance was created, what the anti-ordinance advocates are doing to stop it, and what we’re going to do next, given recent developments and all that’s happened at today’s hearing.

Joining us is Kevin Punzalan, one of the organizers of the anti-ordinance advocates and admin of the We Oppose the Ayala Alabang Ordinance 01 of 2011 Facebook group. Enjoy!

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Politics, Religion, SecularismComments (0)