Ten Good Reasons to Pass the RH Bill Now

Just a few years ago, say “RH” in ordinary talks and you’ll get blank looks. Now, most Filipinos know that RH is reproductive health. It has entered presidential debates, topped the news, been surveyed to death. Moreover, majority have plainly said their piece: “We support RH.” Why? Loads of reasons—from the practical “We need help” to the proud “It’s my choice!” But 10 good ones should be enough to convince rational people and thoughtful policy-makers. So here are our top picks.

1 RH will: Protect the health & lives of mothers

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that complications arise in 15% of pregnancies, bad enough to hospitalize or kill women. From the 2 million plus live births alone, some 300,000 maternal complications occur yearly. This is 7 times the DOH’s annual count for TB, 19 times for heart diseases and 20 times for malaria in women. As a result, more than 11 women die needlessly each day.

Enough skilled birth attendants and prompt referral to hospitals with emergency obstetric care are proven curative solutions to maternal complications. For women who wish to stop childbearing, family planning (FP) is the best preventive measure. All these are part of RH.

2 Save babies

Proper birth spacing reduces infant deaths. The WHO says at least 2 years should pass between a birth and the next pregnancy. In our country, the infant mortality rate of those with less than 2 years birth interval is twice those with 3. The more effective and user-friendly the FP method, the greater the chances of the next child to survive.

3 Respond to the majority who want smaller families

Times have changed and people want smaller families. When surveyed about their ideal number of children, women in their 40s want slightly more than 3, while those in their teens and early 20s want just slightly more than 2.

Moreover, couples end up with families larger than what they planned. On average, Filipino women want close to 2 children but end up with 3. This gap is unequal, but shows up in all social classes and regions. RH education and services will help couples fulfill their hopes for their families.

4 Promote equity for poor families

RH indicators show severe inequities between the rich and poor. For example, 94% of women in the richest quintile have a skilled attendant at birth, while only 26% of the poorest can do so. The richest have 3 times higher tubal ligation rates. This partly explains why the wealthy hardly exceed their planned number of children, while the poorest get an extra 2. Infant deaths among the poorest are almost 3 times that of the richest, which in a way explains why the poor plan for more children. An RH law will help in attaining equity in health through stronger public health services.

5 Prevent induced abortions

Unintended pregnancies precede almost all induced abortions. Of all unintended pregnancies, 68% occur in women without any FP method, and 24% happen to those using traditional FP like withdrawal or calendar-abstinence.

If all those who want to space or stop childbearing would use modern FP, abortions would fall by some 500,000. In our country where abortion is strictly criminalized, and where 90,000 women are hospitalized yearly for complications, it would be reckless and heartless not to ensure prevention through FP.

6 Support and deploy more public midwives, nurses and doctors

RH health services are needed wherever people are establishing their families. For example, a report by the MDG Task Force points out the need for 1 fulltime midwife to attend to every 100 to 200 annual live births. Other health staff are needed for the millions who need prenatal and postpartum care, infant care and family planning. Investing in these core public health staff will serve the basic needs of many communities.

7 Guarantee funding for & equal access to health facilities

RH will need and therefore support many levels of health facilities. These range from health stations that can do basic prenatal, infant and FP care; health centers for safe birthing, more difficult FP services like IUD insertions, and management of sexually transmitted infections; and hospitals for emergency obstetric and newborn care and surgical contraception. Strong RH facilities can be the backbone of a strong and fairly distributed public health facility system.

8 Give accurate & positive sexuality education to young people

Currently, most young people enter relationships and even married life without the benefit of systematic inputs by any of our social institutions. We insist on young voters’ education for events that occur once every few years, but do nothing guiding the young in new relationships they face daily. The RH bill mandates the education and health departments to fill this serious gap.

9 Reduce cancer deaths

Delaying sex, avoiding multiple partners or using condoms prevent HPV infections that cause cervical cancers. Self breast exams and Pap smears can detect early signs of cancers which can be cured if treated early. All these are part of RH education and care. Contraceptives do not heighten cancer risks; combined pills actually reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

10 Save money that can be used for even more social spending

Ensuring modern FP for all who need it would increase spending from P1.9 B to P4.0 B, but the medical costs for unintended pregnancies would fall from P3.5 B to P0.6 B, resulting in a net savings of P0.8 B. There is evidence that families with fewer children do spend more for health and education.

You may want to copy this (or expand the list) and send to family, friends and acquaintances until it reaches our legislators. We need the support of everyone we can reach and convince.


  1. 7 billion people is ridiculously high. Overpopulated na ang pilipinas. We only have 7000+ islands. Do you seriously think that we Philippines can hold billions?

    We have 100 million people in our country. Imagine that? Compared to USA which is a big country that CAN accommodate 500 million+ population, our country cannot hold that much. 7 billion pa kaya?

    Your information source is insane!

  2. 1.) overpopulated ba ang philippines? philippines can accomodate 7 billion people, ilan na tayo ngayon, only 97 million marami na ba ito? USA: 500million, JAPAN:300 million sino ang mas marami? MALTA –has overpopulated country but they are still RICH, why? kasi less corrption, equal distribution of wealth. Bakit ng Philippines ay CITY POPULATEd AND NOT OVER POPULATED? dahil hindi inayos ng governo ang bundok ex: walang daan, walang tubig, kinorakot. ang SOLUTION : sex education? contraceptives? etc…

    2.) survey: USA: introduce sex education on childrean 7yrs old to 10 yrs old, children playing sexual intercourse, 12yrs old above increase pregnancy, they introduce artificial contraceptives, increase abortion, tey legalized abortion, some introduce to eat FETUS to prolonged life, CANNIVALISM> gusto ba natin e apply natin ito sa philippines? trial and error?

  3. You assume that passage of the RH bill will result in a drastic decline in population. The bill doesn't force those who are not interested in learning/practicing about natural and artificial methods of contraception. These families can continue to have as many children as they please- and prevent a drastic decline in the population. China's one child policy is an enforced mandate, the RH bill just provides an option.

    Its easy to throw numbers around, suggest a logical fallacy and misinform people.

    • Art, the whole point of the article is to simply show why the RH bill would be beneficial for the Philippines, and I completely agree with the passing of the bill. Although, the RH bill may not result in a “drastic decline” in the population, it could lead to a start. What’s good about it is it allows for the youth of the Philippines the chance to learn sex-education, which I feel is completely advantageous. I attend a school that has all students take a sex-ed class in first year high school, and I think that this class has allowed all teenagers to learn what is necessary. Simply having these classes will allow the youth to learn the dangers of not using contraception—such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

      Yes, although “families can still continue to have as many children as they please,” Wes’ comment below makes a point; if you earn minimum-wage with 8 kids and more on the way, the reasonable thing to do is get help to plan your family.

  4. I was raised from a devoted catholic family i served the church for some time in my life. The time that i got pregnant and got married inisp ko agad kung anu ang mga dapat gawin pag anjan na ang anak ko, di kelangang mag tanga tangahan sa mga consequences pag nabuntis ako ulit and so i had to talk to my husband and make a concrete plan sa maging pamilya namin para di kami mahirapan pag dating ng future.One major thing is the family planning. After kung manganak i know na what to do so nagpalagay ako ng IUD coz yun ang nakikita kung hiyang sa akin. Tell me, ibig sabhin ba nito kinokundena ako ng dyos dahil sa napili kung method? well i dont think so, kasi para sa akin bilang isang babae me karapatan akong alagaan ang health ko to the fullest and live an active sex life at the same time at para makapag hanap buhay para sa mga bills at makapag save para sa kinabukasan ng pamilya namin. If ang sagot ng simbahan sa akin is yes kukundinahin ako ng dyos sa aking pagpapalagay ng IUD then let me ask u this. Sino ba kayo to judge me at e judge at ang mga babae at mamamayan na pabor sa RH BILL? Dyos ba kayo?? sa inyo ba kami haharap pag namatay kami?? Ang pag husga nyo ba ang aking kailangan?? HOW DARE YOU palibhasa di nyo kasi nasubukan magka anak at magka asawa at magkapamilya at kumayod ng kumayod para magtrabaho. Napakadamot nyo at mga hipokrito kayong lahat. Nagkaron pa tayo ng demokrasya kung ipagdadamot samin ang aming kalayaang mamili, para kayong mga kumunista kung magpatupad ng rules. Kung ayaw nyo ipatupad ang RH BILL e di gumawa kayo ng mga eskwelahan na libre na pang hangang kolehiyo para sa mga pamilyang me mga anak na 4 o hangang isang dosena ka tao, tapos pakainin nyo ang mga pamilyang yan na libre at bigyan nyo narin ng libreng livelihood ang mga magulang..magpakitang gilas kayo kung talagang nagmamalasakit kayo sa utos ng dyos.. pero alam ko di nyo kayang gawin yan, sarap kasi ng mga buhay nyo e, naka aircon ang mga kwarto nyo at sarap ng mga kinakain nyo at me sasakyan pa kayo, bindisyon nga lang ng bungalow na bahay 500 pesos ka agad at ibang price pag dos andanas na bahay at eto e sheshare ko lang sa lahat ang isa pang hinanakit ko sa simbahan. Ngayong kasi pati yung pagalay ko ng misa buwan buwan sa mga namatay kung mga kamag anak pinag iinitan nyo pa, ang mass offering for souls e me presyo na din, 50 pesos daw per kaluluwa..SINO GINAGAGO NILA? nakaka shock dahil pati kaluluwa pinagkikitaan pa and i know for sure na kahit anung amount ang donation kahit piso pa yan. E ang dami kong mga patay na na kamag anak at ayaw kung me e d-drop ako sa listahan ko dahil lang sa singil nila but i always tell them na eto lang ang amount na kaya ko at di ko kaya ang amount na hinihingi nyo..so to make this short dismayado ako sa inyong mga nasa simbahan and it made me realized na all of you ay HINDI TAPAT SA INYONG BOKASYON. as of now im thinking to leave the church dahil sa inyo at panginoon nalang ang humusga sa akin.

  5. I think the last point is a weak one. " Save money that can be used for even more social spending".

    We'll save P0.8B… But just to put that amount into perspective… P0.8B is 0.0005% of the approved National Budget for 2011 (P1.645-trillion). It's also just 0.002% of the estimated amount of money lost to corruption per year (P400-billion/year).

    China was in the same juncture we're in back in the 80s. They pushed for the one-child-policy in the name of economic prosperity. Today, 30 years later, they're bracing themselves for the economic consequences of an aging population. They say Vietnam's growth today is based on the labor shortage in China.

    So if the developmental economists are right, shrinking the population will risk future growth prospects. So we save P0.8B this year, but run the risk of loosing at least P3Billion/year if we were to just assume a 1% loss in GDP.

    Could it be that the RH bill is based on flawed economics?

    • let me just correct that misconception martin, if you actually take the time to READ the RH bill, its objective is not to reduce the number of children couples have, but to give options space them and time them, to give the parents time to earn a living, to balance their income to better support their kids.

      I quote the primary objective#1 of the RH Bill:

      " First, it will help give parents the opportunity to exercise their right to freely and
      responsibly plan the number and spacing of their children. The bill is truly rights-based.
      It mandates the provision of all forms of family planning, both modern natural and
      artificial, to women and couples as long as they are legal and medically-safe, and truly
      effective. However, the acceptance and adoption of family planning is the option and
      decision of parents and couples, particularly of women. "

      Its all about choice dude.

      If you're Mr. Ayala or Mr. Gokongwei and can afford to have one hundred children, then go for it! But if you're a minimum-wage earner with already 8 kids and one more on the way, the reasonable thing to do is to help them plan their family based on how much time, money, and effort they can afford to spend on raising their kids properly.

    • Martin, at what point did our RH Bill mandate people to only have a specific number of children?

      If the China example proves anything, it's that Draconian strategies for reproductive health and population management are a recipe for disaster, and that the best way to go is empowerment and education, instead of coercion.

      As for your assertion about economics, I believe it's your reasoning that is flawed. While a large working-age population is indeed advantageous, it only becomes usable assuming that 1) Said population is educated and skilled, and 2) We actually have jobs for them.

      Most Filipinos living below the poverty have barely enough to eat, and will often only send one or two of their large brood to public school to get an education. And even then, there is no guarantee that they will land a proper job here in RP, nor will they have the proper set of skills needed to actually contribute to our economy.

      And those that do make it through with a diploma in their chosen discipline usually end up as OFWs, which says a lot about how capable our own country is of compensating them for their work. I don't claim to be an economic expert, but I read enough of the news to get a pretty good idea of what's happening.

      • Martin, the savings come from comparing medical costs alone: FP vs. unintended pregnancies (childbirth, post-abortion care, neonatal care). Point #10 is not a full accounting of economic gains and losses.

    • It's crunch time now and we need to convince the undecideds, especially the folks at congress. Now if we can just turn this into a chain-letter by promising something fluffy, serene and eternal… 🙂

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