Today I am very happy and thankful that finally we have the reproductive health bill around. I am a pediatrician, I am Catholic, I practice my religion and I am happy being a Catholic except that I don’t follow the pronouncements of the bishops and priests to the letter. I have my own personal convictions based on my discernment of what is right and what is wrong. I am a victim of a husband’s abuse. I am presently separated by virtue of RA 9262 (violence against women and children). I thank God for that law. There were times in the past when I heard Mass and the priest would say in his homily that it is not right for a woman to complain once she is married to a man no matter if the husband maltreats her, she should stick with him until “death do them part.” I just kept silent; I prayed that if God wills it, it will be done and it was done. I was granted a Personal Protection Order from the man who maltreated me.
Lately, again the RH bill was debated upon until I noticed that the Catholic Church was moving heaven and earth to keep it from being enacted into law. I prayed to God that it be passed because this will be for the good of the many poor women and the many children of the poor who are increasing in number every day in this country.
The passage of the RH bill is another answered prayer! When I attended a Misa de Gallo the priest again mentioned in his homily his disappointment about the passing of the RH bill. He said that this will mean the destruction of morality and increasing abortion, etc.
I don’t think this is going to be the result, because no matter if the contraceptives are there the important thing is the teeners are better educated, the parents should have more opportunities to talk to their children because our women will not be too burdened with their pregnancies, they will have more opportunities to bring up their families well. It is plain and simple education. We will educate the mothers, the women, the teeners so that there will be fewer of them to bear the consequences of poor education and poverty.
Every day I am witness to poor women who bring their sick children to me. I noticed that the poorer they are, the more children they have and the sicker their children. I also noticed that their children get sick very often because they cannot afford to have their children vaccinated completely. And yes may I also remind our policymakers especially in the DOH that our government health centers do not even have enough vaccines, even the basic ones like Hepatitis B vaccines and the anti- pneumonia vaccines like HIB and PCV, which should be included in the expanded routine immunizations for our children. This should mean fewer sick children.
With the RH bill it is my wish that there will be fewer women and children who will die of illnesses during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, even after delivery and that there will be less of the suffering children on the streets who do not even know or experience the joys of childhood.
I salute the 13 senators and the 133 congressmen who voted for the passage of the RH bill. In 2013 you will be remembered favorably.
God bless us all.
—DR. MAGDALENA I. VELARDE,
pediatrician, Tuguegarao City,