RHBillupdate_inside.jpgThe controversial Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) is once again a hot topic after Edwin Lacierda, spokesman for President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, announced that it was included in a list of 13 priority measures that the President will be asking Congress to pass.

A few days after the announcement, Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines' Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (CBCP-ECFL), commented that the passing of the RH Bill was "not a reason to rejoice." Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (Nassa), also said that the bill is immoral and they will be opposing it. GMANews.TV reports that protests are being planned in response to the inclusion of the RH Bill in the list of priority measures. The same report quotes Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan, as saying, "We will definitely hold conferences, seminars and marches against the RH bill."

But the RH Bill has a staunch supporter in the Senate. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is clear in her support of the controversial bill. In a speech given on August 17, she said that 11 mothers die every day due to childbirth- and pregnancy-related complications. The senator went on to say that "family planning would prevent not only unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, but also abortion."

Senator Defensor Santiago's speech was followed by a plenary debate on August 22. It was during this event that Senator Tito Sotto called her out on the claim of 11 childbirth- and pregnancy-related deaths occurring daily. GMANews.tv quotes the Senator as saying, "(These are) not actual figures. There are no names. There are no faces to the 11 maternal deaths a day." He went on to ask to be furnished with copies of how the statistic was arrived at.

Senator Sotto's comment was met with scorn by Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, party-list representative of Akbayan Youth, who said that questioning the veracity of the statistic presented by Senator Santiago "belittles the sacrifices made by mothers, including his own, who put their lives in danger due to pregnancy."

Learn more about the Reproductive Health Bill and what you can do to support it from these FN articles:
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(Screencaps courtesy of k0mbatsero on YouTube)
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