One of best gifts for moms | Inquirer Opinion

One of best gifts for moms

09:36 PM March 15, 2012

We view the failure of our legislators to enact a reproductive health (RH) law last March 8 as a missed opportunity. An RH law would have been one of the best gifts mothers could have gotten on International Women’s Day.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in New York: “[H]undreds of thousands of women die each year in the act of giving life for want of basic obstetric care.” In the Philippines, 162 mothers die in every 100,000 births across the country. And most of these deaths are preventable; they happen because of inadequate RH information, goods and services, especially for those who live in rural areas.

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An RH law diligently implemented will help reduce, if not end, preventable maternal deaths. An RH law is a step toward fulfilling government’s obligation to promote and protect the reproductive and sexual rights of its citizens. Reproductive rights include women’s right to make decisions about their reproductive lives free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

The RH law is not only for women, it is also for couples and families. When a mother dies, a family is deprived of a mother’s nurturing love and care.

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When women living in poverty have no access to emergency obstetric care because of lack of information, or because it is expensive, or because it is not available in their area, there will be more maternal deaths and the Philippines will not achieve its Millennium Development Goal 5.

A delay in legislation is a delay in the improvement of the lives of women living in poverty. Healthy women and children can contribute to the strengthening of our economy and to our development as a nation. If passed, the RH law will make a positive contribution toward ensuring Filipinos’ human rights, thus also ensuring a good economic future for the country.

When a woman is clueless on how to plan a family, clueless on how to make ends meet for a big family, and clueless on how to avoid illnesses while pregnant, she does not become an asset to society, and she is stuck in a vicious cycle of deprivation and human rights abuse. The generations after her will most likely fall into the same pit of deprivation, exclusion, insecurity and voicelessness perpetuating poverty.

I wish our legislators, especially those still not inclined to vote for the RH bill, will listen to the voices of the women and men calling for its passage. I also wish that our legislators will read and listen to what the UN secretary general said: “… [T]here is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedoms and dignity that are their birthright and that will guarantee their wellbeing…. I urge governments… to commit to gender equality and empowerment of women—as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all. The energy, the talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.”

—AURORA CORAZON A. PARONG,

director,

Amnesty International Philippines,

[email protected]

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TAGS: family planning, international women’s day, letters, reproductive health law, women’s rights
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