Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sign the Petition for the Passage of RH Bill

Dear friends,

Greetings! The struggle for the passage of the Reproductive Bill (RH) in Congress rages on. The Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) through our org, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Phils. (DSWP) initiated an online petition that we request you to support by attaching your signature. Please go to to do this.

We hope to gather ONE MILLION SIGNATURES to show our legislators that there is a wide support base for the bill's passage despite what the opposition says. We will present the signatures both to the House of Representatives (HOR) and Senate within September as we are waiting for the schedule of plenary deliberations in the HOR and the release of the Senate Committee on Health's report.

Please support the petition. It will not take more than 5 minutes of your time. More than 10 women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. The big bulk of those who die are poor women at the prime of their lives. This is simply unacceptable and must be stopped. Congress has the power to do this.

Kindly forward this mail to all your friends.

Thank you very much.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Catholics for RH Speak Out! Movement

The Catholics for RH Speak Out! Movement is a fellowship of concerned Catholics empowered with the belief that the Catholic faith upholds social justice and human rights, respects freedom and self determination, promotes and practices fairness, and defends the dignity and value of individuals, of families and children, especially the poor and marginalized.

The members of the Movement also believe in reproductive health as a right and as such, we support and promote the right of every Filipino to reproductive health services, information, and education.

The prevailing circumstances to discredit the reproductive health bill, its advocates and supporters, majority of whom are Catholics, have brought forth this movement. As Catholics, we believe it is our essential duty and obligation to do what is right, fair, and just for our fellow human beings. The fundamental element of justice is that it gives every person his/her due and to what belongs to him/her by right.

Reproductive health is not anti-God, not anti-Catholic, not anti-life, not anti-constitution and not anti-poor. It is in fact pro-quality of life, believes in the essential goodness and potentials of men and women, enhances family life and personal relations, respects existing and prevailing laws and prevents loss of lives and helps improve the total health and well being.

The guiding principles of reproductive health do not run counter with the practice of the Catholic faith. It is the apostolic activity of the movement to make this known to the Catholic faithful. St. Paul defines apostolic activity as the ministry of reconciliation.

We would like to see this as an apostolic activity of Catholics who are also supporters and advocates of reproductive health and rights. It is our hope that through this Movement we are reconciling and making great efforts to be architects of peace among our Catholic brothers and sisters, bringing them into full harmony with their faith and to realize that there is no dissonance with their being Catholic and simultaneously believing in the advocacy and goals of reproductive health and rights.

Statement distributed during the press conference held at Barbara's Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila on August 14, 2008

Pro-RH Legislators: The People’s Champions

The Filipino people need champions.

Champions in Congress to craft policies that respond to the needs of their constituents. We need them to address pressing issues through laws so that pro-people and pro-poor programs are implemented, rights are respected and, therefore, lives become better.

A national policy on reproductive health (RH) is one of our needs. At a time when prices of basic commodities and services are soaring amidst widespread poverty, ordinary people urgently need all the help they can get.

Wage increases, tax breaks, food and electricity-consumption subsidies are good but not enough. These initiatives are not sustainable. With the ever-increasing scarcity of resources, government will eventually not be able to adequately address the needs of the people.

Legislators have to deal with the need of our families, especially the poor to plan their lives. RH information and services are needed to enable people to make informed and intelligent decisions that will: save women’s lives, facilitate having children that parents can provide for, prepare the youth to handle responsibilities that go with having relationships, and empower men to realize and use the various options available to them in planning their families.

The existence of such urgent needs cannot be denied. In the City of Manila alone where RH services have been virtually absent for the past eight years, throngs of residents flocked to the Tondo Sports Complex last Friday to avail of free family planning information and services offered by NGOs and the City Health Department. Manila residents in poor communities acted on their need at the first opportunity offered them.

An increasing number of local government units (LGUs) are also stepping up to address this need as evidenced by the passage of RH ordinances in Aurora province, Sulu, Olongapo, and Quezon City to name a few. Moreover, there are LGUs that are presently processing their own RH ordinances.

In Congress, we have RH champions. These legislators have taken action based on the facts that:

• 10 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth complications;
• 3 out of 4 of these women who die are aged 15-19 years old; and
• Internationally, 99% of all women who die from such causes come from developing countries.

We, RH advocates laud the courage, determination and foresight of these legislators to work for measures that offer strategic solutions to current crises.

Like many of our people, we are one with our legislators who stand with ordinary Filipinos; with women on the issue of RH. As shown by the 2004 Pulse Asia survey:

• 86% of respondents support candidates with programs for women’s health;
• 82% supports candidates who are in favor of couples’ free choice of family planning methods;
• 82% considers candidates supportive of a law on population as worthy of their votes; and
• 83% favors candidates who support allocating funds for family planning.

We ask our legislators not to give up on our needs--not to give up on our rights.

We ask our legislators to continue being our champions until that day when all Filipinos, rich and poor, shall have the opportunities to pursue a life of quality.

Press statement of the Reproductive Health Advocacy network (RHAN), July 24, 2008