Sponsorship Speech for HB 513 – RH Bill

Sponsorship Speech for HB 513

Committee on Population and Family Relations

Rep. Kaka J. Bag-ao, AKBAYAN Partylist

24 November 2010 / Andaya Hall

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

Let me begin with a clear declaration – I am a proud author of the Reproductive Health Bill, I will never withdraw my support for the measure, and we will have the RH Bill enacted this term. Ipapasa natin ang bill na ito, at sa term na ito magtatagumpay tayo.

We have all come here carrying the calls of our conscience. I have decided to author a reproductive health bill, one of the six that we will tackle in this committee, not because Ii have lost my sense of morality. On the contrary, my dear colleagues, Akbayan’s decision to champion the Reproductive Health bill has always been a moral decision.

At the core of the debate on the RH Bill is a public health crisis. Every year, 800,000 Filipino women undergo unsafe abortion because of unwanted pregnancy, a situation that can be prevented if women are given the choice, the tool and the education to plan their pregnancy.

11 women die everyday due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This, too, is a preventable situation. It can be prevented through the establishment of a national reproductive health policy and program that would give women evidence-based education to address their reproductive needs. If such a program and policy exist, no one would die because of ignorance, and ignorance would not be deadly, just boring.

The moral issue, therefore, is a secular one, and not theological in nature – the status quo is hardly morally perfect. Hundreds of women die because of the lack of a national reproductive health policy. Ang tanong sa atin bilang mga mambabatas ay hahayaan ba natin na magpatuloy itong status quo na ito kahit na marami na ang namamatay?

Secular morality dictates that we use the lens of public welfare in our decision on the RH bill. A clean conscience does not demand blind faith. It requires the broadness of our sense of compassion and the triumph of reason so that we are able to distinguish facts from religious obscurantism, and so that we are able to determine what is truly right and what is wrong.

My dear colleagues, the RH bill is an urgent measure. It has been projected as a divisive issue, when in fact there is already a vast majority of Filipinos supporting the bill. The public sees the need to have it enacted, and enacted soon – so that women and parents can access the method of their choice to plan their families, so that young Filipinos get the correct information to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infection, and so that the national government and local governments can implement a public health program uniformly.

My dear colleagues, it with clear conscience that I urge you – let us now pass the RH bill. Maraming salamat!

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