RH Law not evenly implemented, says CHR
Four years since it was passed after much debate, the reproductive health (RH) law is not being uniformly implemented across the country due to the varying degrees of local officials’ political will to execute its provisions, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Thursday.
An investigation by the human rights watchdog which started in March this year found that some local government units “disregard and disrespect” women’s choice of family planning methods and commodities despite available supplies, CHR officials said.
The CHR said the City of Manila continues to bar funding for artificial contraceptives although it does not prohibit their distribution, while Sorsogon City refuses outright to let women obtain artificial contraceptives, which are rejected by the Catholic Church.
The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 promotes reproductive healthcare services including family planning as well as maternal, infant and child health services.
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit, who led the inquiry along with Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana, said there is a direct campaign in Sorsogon City to erroneously connect artificial contraceptives to cancer.
“We see the need to correct, address and bring to the attention of duty bearers these rampant disinformation/misinformation. When women are deprived of correct information on reproductive health and rights, there is also a violation of women’s rights,” she said.
CHR said “there is an excess of RH commodities and goods” in the government facilities they visited, except in Sorsogon City.
“There were, however, admissions from government health service providers and health workers that facilities and equipment are sometimes lacking or inadequate,” it said. “More often than not, human health resources are insufficient and overburdened.”
CHR also found that low-income women, rural women, indigenous women, women with disabilities, lesbians, bisexuals, transwomen and even Muslim women continue to suffer discrimination, disinformation and misinformation about the use of contraceptives.
Gana said that despite the RH law, “the harrowing reality (is) that the Philippines continues to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Asia-Pacific region.”
“The biases and misconceptions that people, particularly duty-bearers, might have about reproductive health matters must not be allowed to continue much less influence government policy,” she said.
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