Lifeline Foundation Supports the RH Bill

Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011 at 7:26 pm


Last Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Lifeline Foundation Support Team Inc was invited by Congressman David Kho to write a position paper on the controversial RH Bill especially in the light of the condition of the Mangyans of Mindoro, to whom Lifeline has been bringing medical care twice a year since 2003. The high rate of pregnancy and childbirth among the very young teenage Mangyan girls has them trapped in a cycle of poverty and the Mangyans have expressed to us their desire to control the number of children they have, or at least have the ability to space these births instead of having babies yearly.

We at Lifeline Foundation lend our full support to the RH BIll. We speak up for the Mangyans, and add our voices to the fray. It is time for the Filipino to have full access to safe family planning methods as well as age-appropriate reproductive health education.

In 2001 Lifeline Foundation Support Team Inc started our medical missions among the Mangyans in Mindoro (Calapan, Victoria, Nauhan, Puerto Galera, Abra de Ilog). We have been bringing medical and dental care, vitamins, food, clothes, slippers, blankets, mosquito nets, toothpaste and toothbrushes to this tribe whose people are nomadic, illiterate and dependent on subsistence and slash-and-burn farming for their survival. We have met the poorest of the poor, who sometimes literally carry all that they have on their backs, walking across mountains and rivers to receive rudimentary medical care. It is a life that is far from enviable, and it is at times frustrating that we have been able to do very little for them.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of seeing them year after year is the high rate of pregnancy and childbirth. Every time we come back there are always more and more babies—newborns who have siblings who are only one or two year olds themselves. We have seen Mangyan women, actually girls, who have babies at 12 or 13 years old, and by the time they are in their late teens, they have several children already. These children are precious and beautiful, but unless their lives change drastically in the next few years, they are destined to get trapped in the same cycle of grinding poverty as their parents and grandparents and great grandparents, and so on.

In our most recent medical missions we began to teach the Mangyans birth control using condoms, and later on we would like to offer tubal ligations or vasectomies—procedures that, while not alleviating the cause their poverty, will at the very least protect the health of these very young Filipina mothers, and enable them to take better care of the children they have already. They have repeatedly, both the Mangyan men and women, expressed that if there were ways to control the number of children they have or space out the years between these children, they would do so.

The Mangyans are just like you and me, in that we all want a better future for our children. We all want our children to grow up with more—more chances of health, wealth, education and happiness.

Let us support the RH Bill, or The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011and give our fellow Filipinos like the Mangyans of Mindoro a better quality of life by educating them about safe and effective family planning methods. It is not the ultimate solution to lift their lives out of poverty but it is a step toward empowerment that will ensure that the next generation of Mangyan children have a better future.



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