A SYTYCB entry
The Philippines is potentially weeks away from signing its very first Reproductive Health bill, which would guarantee universal access to contraceptives and safe family planning to millions of Filipino women for the first time in history. This landmark Bill has languished for more than a decade after facing opposition from the country’s Catholic officials. It is finally being put to a vote at the end of this month, thanks to vocal support by President Aquino and the majority of Filipinos who support the bill (more than 70%).
The importance of this bill cannot be overstated. Filipino women will have 3 children on average (6 on average for poorer women), with 50% giving birth at home and 10 dying every single day because of pregnancy and childbirth complications (the Reproductive Health Action Network). The Bill will provide critical access to birth control and sex education, making family planning accessible to women across the country, including low-income women. Of course, the bill still has major shortcomings, such as keeping abortion criminalized (though in a good first step, post-abortion care services are being offered).
Despite being pressured by Catholic officials to reject the Bill, the Filipino people have overwhelmingly demanded that their right to family planning be recognized. The lack of reproductive justice has trapped them in poverty, and they have asserted their right to make informed decisions on their reproductive health.
Access to reproductive information and choices will give the Filipino people freedom to restrict and delay their childbearing, preventing unplanned pregnancies and maternal and infant mortality. This Bill will save millions of women’s lives. Although several senators (and the rains and flooding in the past few weeks) have delayed voting on the Bill, it should be passed by the end of this month. This is a major victory for Filipino women and reproductive justice around the world. Congratulations to our Filipino sisters who have fought so hard for this bill!