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69% of Pinoys favor Reproductive Health Bill

Measure will provide free condoms to poor folks

MANILA, Nov 30 (Mabuhay) – A considerable majority of Filipinos, 69 percent, agree with the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill pending in Congress, said pollster Pulse Asia.

The Pulse Asia survey conducted in October, showed that:

69 percent of those surveyed agree with the RH bill;
7 percent opposed the bill; while
24 percent could not say if they agree or disagree with the bill.

Measuring the people’s awareness about the bill, Pulse Asia said eight out of 10 Filipinos (80 percent) knew about the RH Bill currently pending in Congress.
In Metro Manila, 90 percent of the respondents were aware of the bill.
The level of awareness measured by the survey was higher in the best-off Class ABC than in the poorer Class E.

Two out of 10 Filipinos only learned about the bill while being interviewed for the survey.

Opposing the RH bill

Those who disagreed with the RH bill were asked about their opinions on the provisions of the bill.

The majority of those who disagreed accepted the following provisions of the RH bill:

# recognizing the rights of women and couples to choose the family planning method that they want on the basis of their needs and personal and religious beliefs (79%);
# promoting information about and access to natural and modern family planning methods (70%); and
# stipulating the use of government funds to support modern family planning methods (55%).

From among those who disagree with the bill, 44 percent disagree with the proposal to include ‘Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education’ in the school curricula.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from October 20 to 29, 2010 using face-to-face interviews. The nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above.

RH bill 96

Several versions of the RH bill have been filed in previous Philippine congresses. In the present Congress, the RH bill is known as “Bill 96” and the main proponent is Minority Leader Edcel Lagman of Albay.

The RH bill is based on the premise that the country’s population growth impedes economic development.

The bill seeks to “guarantee to universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information.”

The bill also seeks a “consistent and coherent national population policy,” citing studies that show that “rapid population growth exacerbates poverty while poverty spawns rapid population growth.”

Contentious issue

The RH bill has been a contentious issue in the country because it pits two powerful sectors against each other: prolife groups (such as Catholic and Muslim groups opposing the RH bill) and prochoice groups (led by non-government organizations supporting the RH bill).

It is estimated that 80 percent of the country’s population are baptized Catholics. According to the National Statistics Office, there were 88.57 million Filipinos as of August 2007. The projected population for 2010 is 94.01 million.

The Catholic Church promotes only natural family planning and is opposed to the use of artificial birth control methods such as condoms and birth-control pills, saying these could lead to promiscuity and a rise in abortion cases.

RH advocates say natural family planning methods have not proven to be as reliable as artificial means of birth control.

The Catholic Church accepts only natural family planning (NFP) methods. The NFP has two distinct forms:

Ecological breastfeeding (a form of child care that normally spaces babies about two years apart on the average)

Systematic NFP (a system that uses a woman’s signs of fertility to determine the fertile and infertile times of her cycle).

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