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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

RH LAW: Closing Arguments In Favor of the Law

“Hopes of future prosperity could turn to dust if the country is not able to deal with the population growth by giving men and women access to the information and means to freely and responsibly exercise their human right to have just the number of children they want,” the United Nations said in a statement yesterday. “If current trends continue, as the country grows richer, the number of people living in poverty will increase.”

The UN estimates about 20 million Filipinos, or a fifth of the population, live in slum conditions.
From the UNFPA’s “State of the World Population 2012”:

All countries should take steps to meet the family-planning needs of their populations as soon as possible and should, in all cases by the year 2015, seek to provide universal access to a full range of safe and reliable family-planning methods and to related reproductive health services which are not against the law. The aim should be to assist couples and individuals to achieve their reproductive goals and give them the full opportunity to exercise the right to have children by choice.

Although the report has no legal effect, it “effectively declares” that placing barriers to family planning measures are an infringement of women’s rights. UNFPA executive director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said, “Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labour-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”

The U.N. report concluded that effective family planning initiatives could save $5.7 billion worldwide. From Salon

Position Of The World Health Organization (WHO):
"Family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility. A woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy."World Health Organization

Key facts
An estimated 200 million couples in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception.
Some family planning methods help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Family planning reduces the need for unsafe abortion.
Family planning reinforces people’s rights to determine the number and spacing of their children.
Family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility (this fact sheet focuses on contraception).

Quality family planning services bring a wide range of benefits to women, their families and society.

A woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being. Family planning allows spacing of pregnancies and can delay pregnancies in young women at increased risk of health problems and death from early childbearing. This reduces maternal mortality.

Family planning can prevent closely spaced and ill-timed pregnancies and births, which contribute to some of the world’s highest infant mortality rates. Infants of mothers who die as a result of giving birth also have a greater risk of death and poor health.

Family planning reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV, resulting in fewer infected babies and orphans. In addition, male and female condoms provide dual protection against unintended pregnancies and against STIs including HIV.

By reducing rates of unintended pregnancies, family planning reduces the need for unsafe abortion, which accounts for 13% of global maternal mortality.

Family planning enables people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

Pregnant adolescents are more likely to have preterm or low birth-weight babies. Babies born to adolescents have higher rates of neonatal mortality. Many adolescent girls who become pregnant have to leave school. This has long-term implications for them as individuals, their families and communities.
Slowing population growth

Family planning is key to slowing unsustainable population growth and the resulting negative impacts on the economy, environment, and national and regional development efforts.
Source: The Guardian
In the heart of Manila’s vast North Cemetery, the largest graveyard in the capital of the Philippines, Ricky Baking is hunched over a tomb with a hammer and chisel. After several determined blows, the lid cracks into three pieces. He opens the rotten coffin to reveal the skeleton of a 65-year-old man, dressed in his burial suit and shoes. Baking steps into the tomb with bare feet, and reaches for the bones. 
This isn’t a grave robbery – it’s an eviction. Like everywhere else in Manila, the North Cemetery has run out of space. Up to 80 funerals take place here every day, and demand for plots is so high most people can only afford to rent tombs. If your relatives fail to keep up the payments, another body will take your place. It’s Baking’s job to clear this grave so another coffin can be lowered into it later this afternoon. He’s done this so often it’s almost mundane to him. 
Land is precious in Manila, and people are prepared to endure incredible circumstances to claim their own piece. Baking’s family is one of hundreds that have set up home in the cemetery, jostling for space with the dead. “It’s much better living here than in a shanty town,” he assures me as we clamber over densely-packed powder pink and blue tombs on the way to his home. “It’s much more peaceful and quiet.” 
  The crypt where his family of seven sleeps is barely bigger than a garden shed, but it’s furnished with every modern convenience: there’s a fridge, a DVD player, electric fans and a built-in toilet. His youngest daughter was a little frightened when they moved here four years ago, he says, but they now find it easy to forget the body buried beneath its floor. In a city with too many people, this is a decent place to live.
The world is facing an overpopulation crisis. In 40 years time, if current growth rates continue, the number of people on the planet will be almost one and a half times what it is today, rising from 6.8 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. As population increases, so does competition for basic resources – land, food, water and fuel – as well as the threat of environmental devastation and endemic disease. Our numbers are going to be unsustainable within a few years. 
Most of the 10,000 babies born every hour are going to grow up in urban settlements: more than half the world’s population now live in cities, and that will rise to 70% by 2050. Megacities – with more than 10 million inhabitants – are springing up across the globe, particularly in developing countries. In 1985, there were only nine megacities Today, there are 26. 
But as we brace ourselves for the future challenges posed by overpopulation, the residents of Manila are already living with them. This is the city where the statistics come alive. Greater Manila is home to 20 million people, rising by another quarter of a million every year. It’s a place of great economic extremes, and space and privacy are luxuries only afforded to Manila’s wealthy elite. A third of Manilans live cheek by jowl in makeshift settlements on any bit of spare land – under bridges, next to railway lines, beside flood defences as well as cemeteries. These are ordinary people, often with reasonably paid jobs, who can only afford to live in battery conditions if they want to stay in the city. 
From Inquirer:
MANILA, Philippines – Apparently more Filipinos agree that the much vilified Reproductive Health law should be deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, if the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey is to be believed.
The results of the survey obtained by INQUIRER.net Monday said at least 77 percent of Filipinos surveyed agreed that the “RH law follows what the Constitution stands for, so it is only proper for the Supreme Court  to allow it.”
Those surveyed were responding to the question in Filipino: “How well do you agree or disagree to the statement ‘The RH law follows the Constitution, so it is only right that the Supreme Court favor it’?” according to a PowerPoint Presentation of the survey obtained by INQUIRER.net.
(“Gaano po kayo sumasang-ayon o hindi sumasang-ayon sa statement o pangungusap na ito ‘Sumusunod ang RH Law sa mga dapat pinapanindigan ng Konstitusyon, kaya dapat lamang paboran ito ng Supreme Court?”)
At least 14 percent remain undecided, while only 9 percent disagree to the statement, the survey said.
Meanwhile, the survey also said at least 72 percent of adults surveyed favor the RH law.
The survey was conducted from March 27 to 30 with a sample size of 1,200 adults spread across the country. It also has a margin error of three percent.
The SWS results were released a day before the Supreme Court is expected to decide on the law that has been stalled since it was approved in Congress.

Business Groups Support RH Bill
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry reiterated their support for universal access to family planning methods as a way to alleviate poverty and improve maternal and child health care.