Antis won’t agree to give contraceptives only to poorest families

Antis won’t agree to give contraceptives only to poorest families

AFTER a meeting with House leaders on Wednesday, lawmakers opposing the reproductive health (RH) bill still refused to accept a version of the measure that would give contraceptives only to the poorest families in the country.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he would not accept any version of the RH bill, or House Bill 4244, unless the provision on the promotion of artificial birth control methods is deleted.

“We believe this should be taken out. The promotion of modern family planning methods is against the doctrine of the Catholic Church,” Rodriguez said after a closed-door meeting with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Belmonte sat down with RH critics on Wednesday afternoon to present possible amendments to the measure.

The House Speaker presented the proposal to amend the RH bill to target the government’s provision of artificial contraceptives only to the poorest families in the country, as determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Rodriguez, however, said poor families should still be “protected from artificial contraceptives.”

“We cannot accept that contraceptives are essential medicines because pregnancy is never a disease. Besides, the provision of these contraceptives is being done now by non-governmental organizations, so why should the State come and coerce these people?” he said.

The RH bill, one of President Benigno Aquino III’s priority legislations, promotes the use of both natural and artificial methods of family planning. It is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural forms of family planning.
The measure has yet to hurdle second reading in both chambers of Congress.
Due to ‘religious belief’

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, who was also present during the closed-door meeting, likewise admitted that some RH critics were still not convinced by a compromise version of the measure.

“Siyempre, for the hardliner, ayaw pa rin nila. Totally, talagang ayaw. Religious belief nila iyon e,” Gonzales said in a separate interview.
He added that the House leadership held the meeting to push the bill forward, despite the upcoming budget deliberations next week.

“Realistically, hindi naman talaga mate-take up ang RH ngayon e. Ang gusto lang ni Speaker mayroon maging basis ang usapan. Kung walang panibagong i-offer sa kanila na version, wala ka ring pag-uusapan,” he said.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, for his part, suggested that the RH bill be entirely junked, and that the funds for contraceptives be incorporated to the budget allocation for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

“Why don’t we set aside money for CCT to buy contraceptives so we don’t need a new bill? Nagiging religious war ang issue e. Position ng bishops and tenets ng Catholic Church ang nagiging usapan kaya humahaba,” he said after attending the closed door meeting.

Suarez was one of the co-authors of the RH bill, but he withdrew his support for the bill last July.

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