Women challenge lawmakers to stop the insensitivity and pass the RH Bill now

A group of women advocates criticized the insensitivity of some lawmakers as they continue to derail the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. The Democratic Socialist of the Philippines (DSWP), a national organization of women working in grassroots communities and at the forefront of the advocacy for the measure emphasized that the RH bill is long overdue. The DSWP asserts that thousands of women’s lives have been sacrificed resulting in countless orphaned children and families.

“Sadly,” said Elizabeth Angsioco, DSWP National Chairperson, “all these are because our honorable lawmakers sit on a very crucial bill that could have saved the lives of women and spared their families from loss.

Angsioco explained that the 11 mothers dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications every day is continuously ignored, passed off as insignificant and even insinuated as “imagined” data by some insensitive anti-RH lawmakers.

“When is late, too late?” said Angsioco. “The RH bill has been languishing in Congress for 16 long years already. All possible questions have been raised and answered, all arguments repeatedly discussed. It has been presented in numerous forums in many parts of the country, has been hotly debated in and out Congress and covered by media for many years. The bill has even been revised to accommodate some suggestions from anti-RH lawmakers,” she said.

“Yet, anti-RH lawmakers continue to claim that they need more time to study the bill and interrogate its authors in the pretext of trying to understand its provisions and intentions,” Angsioco asserted. “These anti-RH lawmakers are not stupid. Many of them are lawyers, some have PhDs, while others claim to have studied in Harvard and other prestigious schools both here and abroad. It is amazing that they claim difficulty in being able to understand a bill that is written in a straightforward manner to address issues that are widely recognized and felt by the Filipino people.”

Angsioco opined that these lawmakers pretend ignorance so as not to earn the ire of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the RH bill’s staunchest opponent. They block the bill’s passage because of their vested political interests. They are already looking at the 2013 elections.

“The thing is, this might backfire against them. Lawmakers who continue to be insensitive to people’s RH needs will be remembered by voters. As early as now, there are those who already make lists of anti-RH politicians to guide them who not to vote for in the next elections. Astute politicians should be aware of this,” continued the DSWP Chair.

Still, Angsioco expressed optimism that Congress will put the bill to a vote before this year ends, “The RH bill is one of President Aquino’s priority measures and we are confident that more legislators, especially those who have been keeping their position close to their chests will eventually support the President on this. The bill already has the numbers. Congress should now heed the people’s clamor and vote on it,” ended Angsioco