Business Groups Urge Approval of Reproductive Health Bill

Posted on August 05, 2012 11:21:23 PM

IMMEDIATE passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill was urged yesterday by business groups, ahead of a House of Representatives vote tomorrow on ending protracted debates on the controversial priority measure.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry reiterated their support for universal access to family planning methods as a way to alleviate poverty and improve maternal and child health care.

“[W]e call on both houses of Congress to pass into law without further delay the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011, as embodied in House Bill 4244 and Senate Bill 2865,” the business groups said in a joint statement.

“We believe such a focused policy of family planning must provide lowest-cost access for the very poor to the services and materials to implement their free and informed choice.”

The release of the statement followed a protest rally on Saturday by opponents of the RH measure. Tomorrow’s House vote, which aims to end over a year of plenary discussions and allow for possible second and third reading approval of the bill, is seen by observers as a litmus test.

“We are hoping [that lawmakers] will consider the strong support of the business community,” MBC Executive Director Peter V. Perfecto yesterday said.

Also yesterday, House Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales II said in a radio interview that President Benigno S. C. Aquino III would be meeting lawmakers today to “share his view on the RH bill”.

“All the House members, including the majority and the minority, were invited to a meeting in Malacañang at 11:0 a.m.,” Mr. Gonzales said in the vernacular.

Mr. Aquino has been vocal about his support for the measure, mentioning it in his State of the Nation Address last July 23.

HB 4244 has been discussed on the floor since Feb. 8 last year. Previous versions have not prospered given the strong objection of the Catholic Church, which rejects provisions promoting the use of contraceptives.

SB 2865, meanwhile, is pending second reading approval. — N. M. Gonzales



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