Reproductive Health Law

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Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, also known as the Reproductive Health Law or RH Law is a law that provided universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal care in the Philippines. It was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on 12 December 2012.

While there is general agreement about its provisions on maternal and child health, there is great debate on its mandate that the Philippine government and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms, birth control pills, and IUDs, as the government continues to disseminate information on their use through all health care centers.

Passage of the legislation was controversial and highly divisive, with academics, religious institutions, and major political figures declaring their support or opposition while it was pending in the legislature. Heated debates and rallies both supporting and opposing the RH Bill took place nationwide.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines delayed the implementation of the law in March 2013 in response to challenges. On 8 April 2014, the Court ruled that the law was "not unconstitutional" but struck down eight provisions partially or in full.

In 2015, the Supreme Court's issued a temporary restraining order on certain provisions of the law, forbidding the distribution of contraceptive implants.

Notwithstanding the restraining order on certain methods of contraception, in September 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to ensure, within 2018, free contraception for 6 million women with unmet needs for modern family planning – in 2018, for 2 million women identified as poor, and later for further 4 million women.

History

The Senate Policy Brief titled "Promoting Reproductive Health", the history of reproductive health in the Philippines dates back to 1967 when leaders of 12 countries including the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos signed the Declaration on Population. The Philippines agreed that the population problem should be considered as the principal element for long-term economic development. Thus, the Population Commission was created to push for a lower family size norm and provide information and services to lower fertility rates.

In 1989, the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) was established, "dedicated to the formulation of viable public policies requiring legislation on population management and socio-economic development". In 2000, the Philippines signed the Millennium Declaration and committed to attain the MDGs by 2015, including promoting gender equality and health. In 2003, USAID started its phase out of a 33-year-old program by which free contraceptives were given to the country. Aid recipients such as the Philippines faced the challenge to fund its own contraception program. In 2004, the Department of Health (DOH) introduced the Philippines Contraceptive Self-Reliance Strategy, arranging for the replacement of these donations with domestically provided contraceptives.

In August 2010, the government announced a collaborative work with the USAID in implementing a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy in favor of family planning called May Plano Sila (literally "they have a plan").

Summary of Major Provisions

The bill mandates the government to "promote, without biases, all effective natural and modern methods of family planning that are medically safe and legal."

Although abortion is recognized as illegal and punishable by law, the bill states that "the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner".

The bill calls for a "multi-dimensional approach" integrates a component of family planning and responsible parenthood into all government anti-poverty programs. Age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education is required from grade five to fourth year high school using "life-skills and other approaches."

The bill also mandates the Department of Labor and Employment to guarantee the reproductive health rights of its female employees. Companies with fewer than 200 workers are required to enter into partnership with health care providers in their area for the delivery of reproductive health services.

Employers with more than 200 employees shall provide reproductive health services to all employees in their own respective health facilities. Those with fewer than 200 workers shall enter into partnerships with health professionals for the delivery of reproductive health services. Employers shall inform employees of the availability of family planning. They are also obliged to monitor pregnant working employees among their workforce and ensure they are provided paid half-day prenatal medical leaves for each month of the pregnancy period that they are employed.

The national government and local governments will ensure the availability of reproductive health care services like family planning and prenatal care.

Any person or public official who prohibits or restricts the delivery of legal and medically safe reproductive health care services will be meted penalty by imprisonment or a fine.

References

Citation

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