Press Release
October 1, 2010

Pia urges support for P-Noy on birth control

Crossing party lines, opposition Senator Pia S. Cayetano today called on the people to rally support behind President Benigno Aquino III's stand favoring the distribution of contraceptives to Filipino couples who request it.

"For standing by his Pro-Choice position despite mounting criticism and pressure from the Catholic Church, the President urgently needs support not only from the advocates of the Reproductive Health bill, but more importantly from every citizen who believes in the right of couples to make an informed choice on the issue of birth control," the lady senator said.

Cayetano, a member of the Senate minority bloc and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, issued the appeal following reports that leaders of the Catholic hierarchy have threatened the President with civil disobedience and even excommunication over the latter's statements supporting artificial birth control.

"The Catholic Church has the right to propagate its teachings to its flock. But the State also has a duty to provide basic health services to its people, including reproductive health," she stressed. "Both are possible under the Department of Health's plan to promote both natural and artificial family planning methods. People should keep an open mind about it."

"It must also be emphasized that freedom of choice is an integral part of reproductive health. No one is being forced to use one contraceptive over another. Each may choose according to their personal beliefs."

Citing the country's high maternal mortality rate, she said many Filipino women die at childbirth due to poverty, lack of access to facilities and professional care, which can all be addressed by the RH bill.

"We also have a very high abortion rate, which could be avoided if people, especially women, are educated about reproductive health."

Cayetano said she had the opportunity to study reproductive health policies in other countries when she served as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Committee of Women Parliamentarians. "Catholic countries including Spain, Italy and Latin American states all have reproductive health programs," she related.

"I urge mutual respect from the contending sides of this debate, and I continue to hope that both will find common points of cooperation and convergence towards forging a national family program that is comprehensive and acceptable to all," she concluded.

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