Lagman claims RH Law can help mitigate climate changeBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines – Not only was it designed to protect and promote the reproductive health and rights of Filipinos, the Reproductive Health Law is also a good calamity risk reduction strategy, its principal author in the House of Representatives said on Monday.
In his keynote address during a forum entitled Establishing the Links between RH, Population and Climate Change, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman noted how he had “always maintained that the absence of a comprehensive and national policy on RH also contributed to the level of devastation and impact of climate change on the lives of people.”
The legislator said that preventing environmental degradation did not need to be costly nor should it be limited to green technologies.
“Since a huge population and calamities are fatal partners, the mitigation of the population growth rate as a logical consequence of promoting universal access to reproductive health and family planning, will enhance the Philippines’ positive response to climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Lagman.
“(The RH law) is truly an effective development tool that will simultaneously aid government in addressing problems relating to population, reproductive health and climate change,” he added.
He cited a paper published by the London School of Economics (LSE) in August 2009 entitled Reducing Future Carbon Emissions by Investing in Family Planning: A Cost/Benefit Analysis which stated that “family planning is considerably cheaper than many low carbon technologies” and that “family planning is a cost effective tool in reducing carbon emissions.”
He also cited the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s definition of climate change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity” and listed the following relevant impacts of the new law on reducing calamities:
- Upholding the basic human right to reproductive self-determination wherein couples and women are empowered to freely and responsibly determine the number and spacing of their children, thus mitigating the population growth rate.
- Enabling couples and women to fulfill their fertility goals. Studies have shown that the gap between wanted and actual fertility rates is alarmingly high in women in the poorest quintile. According to the 2006 Family Planning Survey, an average of 44% of pregnancies in the poorest 10% of Filipino women are unwanted.
- Increasing the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR). Again, the FPS 2006 reveals that contraceptive use remains extremely low among poor women whose families are at greatest risk during disasters. Among the poorest 20% of women, over 50% do not use any form of family planning because of lack of information and access to services and commodities.
- Decreasing teenage pregnancies as a result of age and development-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education. Despite the drop in teen marriages, teenage pregnancies in the country have increased by 65% over a 10-year period from 2000-2010 according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Plan Philippines. Teenage pregnancy in the Philippines is among the highest in the world.
- Decreasing migration as fewer children exert less pressure on parents to seek the elusive “greener pasture” in urban centers.
Generating more savings from lesser government intervention and expenditure for pregnancy and maternity-related health services which savings can be channeled to climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and facilities.