RH Bill to be amended: Make sex education optional

This is the Consolidated Text of the Reproductive Health Bill.

The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011

House Minority Floor Leader Edcel Lagman, one of the proponents of House Bill 4244 or the consolidated RH bill, agreed together with his co-authors to give parents the option whether or not their children will attend sex education classes.

“Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their children to attend classes related to reproductive health and sexuality education,” he said during the first day of the interpellations on the measure.

Lagman said this amendment will be added to Section 16 of the consolidated version of the bill currently pending at the chamber. The section requires “mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education” to all students from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School.

He said this amendment will be introduced as a “committee amendment” when the House resumes sessions in May after its Lenten break.

Another amendment is the scrapping of Section 20, which prescribes two children as the “ideal family size” in the country.

Section 20 of HB 4244 states that: “The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size.”

“Wala na ho itong probisyon na ito to enhance the freedom of informed choice, tutal ang ideal family size naman ho ay hindi naman mandatory at compulsory (This provision has been scrapped to enhance the freedom of informed choice since the ideal family size is not mandatory or compulsory),” Lagman said.

These “voluntary” amendments to HB 4244 do not in any way “water down” the measure. There were other ammendments:

Lagman likewise said that Section 21, which requires employers with more than 200 employees to “provide reproductive health services to all employees in their own respective health facilities,” will be “deleted in its entirety.”

The lawmaker explained that the provision will be scrapped because it is only a “restatement” of Article 134 of the Labor Code, which mandates establishments with clinics and infirmaries to “provide free family planning services to their employees” such as contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices.

Another provision of the bill that the authors have agreed to remove is Section 28-E of HB 4244, which identifies “malicious disinformation” about the intent of the measure as one of the “punishable acts,” according to Lagman.

He said that this portion of the bill was scrapped “in order to assure freedom of expression.”

The lawmaker likewise said that Section 15 of the bill, which requires congressmen to allocate a portion of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for mobile health care service vans, will also be changed so that funding of these pieces of equipment shall come from the national government.