Amid fears that the reproductive health (RH) bill might encourage abortion, another bill seeking to discourage it has been pending at the House of Representatives for more than two years now.
The proposed “Women and Children’s Resources Act,” introduced by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez in August 2010, took a back seat when the House focused on the RH bill, which is set to be signed into law by President Aquino before the end of the year.
House Bill No. 1401 seeks to put up a “national program that will provide pregnant women with alternatives to abortion.”
“Women, confronted with unplanned or crisis pregnancy, are often left with the impression that abortion is the only choice that they have in dealing with their difficult circumstances,” Rodriguez said in the explanatory note of the bill, which was coauthored by his brother Rep. Maximo Rodriguez.
“This is due to their lack of accurate information, supportive counseling and other assistance regarding adoption and parenting alternatives to abortion.”
HB 1401 seeks to promote “childbirth as a viable and positive alternative to abortion and empower those facing unplanned or crisis pregnancies to choose childbirth rather than abortion.”
To do so, it identifies “alternative-to-abortion services” such as information and counseling. It also covers other forms of assistance that would help pregnant women come up with “an informed decision regarding the alternatives of adoption or parenting with respect to their child.”
“Support services” include “self-administered pregnancy testing; baby food, maternity and baby clothing, and baby furniture; information and education, including classes regarding prenatal care, childbirth, adoption, parenting, chastity (or abstinence).”
The bill gives priority to pregnant women belonging to the low-income bracket. It will also assist the “parent or guardian of an infant under 12 months of age,” or the “spouse or partner” of the pregnant woman or guardian.
During deliberations on the RH bill, a number of congressmen expressed concern that it might inadvertently encourage abortion because of a guiding principle that states, “While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner.”
Rodriguez said the second part of the statement was “unnecessary,” warning that it would “really encourage abortion.”