Amid recent Department of Health (DOH) report on increasing number of deaths among women caused by pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, a group of women reproductive health (RH) advocates working in grassroots communities nationwide is questioning Congress for not using its legislative powers to stop these preventable deaths.
Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), one of the front liners pushing for the passage of the long-delayed RH bill, emphasized that the proposed law contains provisions that will save mothers from dying.
According to her, the passage of the bill will mean greater access for women and young people, particularly girls, to: information and education that can help them better care for their bodies and health; family planning services, proven worldwide to make for healthy, properly timed, intended, and safe pregnancies; and, other life-saving services that address pregnancy and childbirth complications.
“Poor women and girls do not understand why their lives are jeopardized by those who oppose the RH bill’s passage – particularly the very few rich people who do not have to deal with RH-related problems they face; the men who will never experience pregnancies and its complications; and the Catholic hierarchy who are without wives whose lives many be put in danger and children whose future need preparing for,” stressed Angisoco.
Adding that women cannot understand why Congress, composed of honorable representatives and senators, are turning a deaf ear to their clamor for the passage of the RH bill, she said, “After all, Congress is mandated to pass legislations that respond to people’s needs.”
Angsioco argues that all recent studies and surveys underscore the urgency of passing the RH bill. She emphasized that the National Statistics Office’s 2011 Family Health Survey indicates an increase in the Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) from 162 per 100,000 births to 221 per 100,000 births in 2010. “Thus, from the previous estimate of 11 women dying daily, this has increased to at least 12 mothers’ deaths daily due to pregnancy and/or childbirth-related complications,” she explained.
Moreover, according to her, this finding is significantly related with reports earlier this year that 10% of annual births are due to adolescent pregnancies. “It doesn’t take a genius to realize that adolescent pregnancies are risky because girls’ bodies are not yet ready for pregnancy,” she asserted.
“That mothers, particularly poor and girl mothers continue to die, and in bigger numbers due to preventable causes is totally unjust, totally unacceptable. Congress must not wait any longer. It should use its power to enact a law that will address maternal mortality head on,” she ended.