Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the main author of the House Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, said that the new version contains amendments which they believe are deemed acceptable to both pro and anti factions of the measure.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. expressed high hopes and optimism that it would get the approval of the critics of the bill without sending it back to the committee level to fast-track its passage.
“I hope that lawmakers would take the opportunity to carefully scrutinize the revised version of the RH Bill in the next two weeks while Congress is in recess,” Belmonte added.
Lagman said, that ‘even with the introduction of the amendments, the essence of the original bill, which is to promote responsible parenthood and reproductive health, was neither destroyed nor diluted’.
Among the amendments introduced to the original bill are:
—- “The State guarantees public access to relevant information and education on medically safe, legal, ethical, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices and supplies that do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
—- “The State shall likewise prioritize the needs of poor women and men in marginalized households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive healthcare, services and supplies for free.”
—- “The State shall also provide funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning consistent with the needs of acceptors.”
—- “The State shall promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.”
—- “There shall be no demographic and population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate are incidental to the advancement of reproductive health and sustainable human development.”
—- “Family planning information and services shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective fertility cycles.”
—- “The teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be promoted and conducted with due deference to cultural, religious and ethical norms of various communities.”
—- “Flexibility in the teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be accorded to sectarian schools within the provisions and parameters of the Section on age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education.”
—- “The FDA shall update the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) with respect to modern family planning products and supplies in accordance with standard medical practice.”
It could be recalled that the original RH bill which seeks to promote the use of both natural and artificial methods of family planning but it was opposed by the Roman catholic church.
The church promotes only natural methods so the House has to reword the provision without losing or altering the original intention of the bill.
Despite the amendments, Belmonte expected that there would still be some critics who will not be amenable to the new RH Bill version.