CHR to ask women: Are you getting RH services?
ARE LOCAL governments providing reproductive health services in accordance with the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Law? What barriers prevent women from accessing these services in their localities?
These are some of the questions the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be asking in its investigation into how the reproductive health law and services are being implemented in localities.
Last Tuesday, the CHR, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and nongovernment organizations, launched a nationwide inquiry into reproductive health which will run until May.
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said the inquiry will include surveys and interviews with women and RH service providers “to find out whether RH services are being provided by local governments in accordance with the law, particularly the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.”
The inquiry, launched in time for the celebration of Women’s Month, also seeks to find out “what the barriers are in terms of providing RH services or accessing (them) in the women’s localities,” Gomez-Dumpit said in an interview.
For this purpose, the CHR commissioner invited the public to submit to the CHR regional offices proof or “documentation of their experiences of being denied access to reproductive health services, or (how they dealt) with barriers to these services.”
Gomez-Dumpit said that as part of the inquiry, regional public consultations will be held next month: in Metro Manila on April 1 and 2, and April 4; Legazpi City, April 12-14; Zamboanga City, April 19-21; Tacloban City, April 23-25, and Cagayan de Oro, April 27-29.
“These are the localities where there have been reports of problems (in accessing) RH services,” the CHR official said.
She cited Sorsogon City where the mayor issued in February 2015 a resolution that led to contraceptives being pulled out from the health centers. The city also has a pending ordinance that would criminalize the dispensation of family planning commodities.
A similar ordinance in Manila in 2000, Executive Order No. 003, had been described by no less than the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women as a “grave and systemic reproductive health violation,” for which the Philippine government is accountable.
Such local laws and executive pronouncements “deprive women of the choice in the mode of reproductive health and family planning that they want to pursue,” Gomez-Dumpit said.
She added that the inquiry hopes to give concrete recommendations urging the government agencies concerned to address “this huge gap in women’s human rights.”
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