The Reproductive Health Bill or the RH Law is a law that guarantees universal access and education to methods on contraception, fertility control, sex education and maternal care.
Passed in 2012, not only does the Reproductive Health Bill provide universal access to modern family planning methods, but also to helps slow population growth, improve maternal and infant care, improve the management of HIV and Aids and provide sexual education for the youth amongst other things. For decades there have been numerous arguments and debates regarding the Reproductive Health Bill. It has been very controversial in the country and has become a political and moral issue.
Since the people of the Philippines are predominantly Catholic, the implementation of laws that provide sexual education, contraception and fertility control are not seen as acceptable because it does not align with their morals and religious beliefs. As Manila’s archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle stated, “the church is against any law that promotes both natural and artificial family planning methods”. From its implementation being delayed to some provisions being removed and considered void, it has been a long process and battle when it comes to the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. It all started during Marcos’s regime when he introduced Reproductive Health care policies in 1960 in an effort to address and tackle the rising population of the Philippines. He set up POPCOM (Commission on Population) to study the growth of the population. In 1970 he announced that the policy of family planning was to become official.
This implementation was intended to bring awareness to the youth about the rising population of the Philippines and provide information regarding contraceptives especially in undeveloped areas of the country. Marcos also made it so that employers of companies would provide family planning services to women, have contraceptives be available without needing a prescription, and for couples to be able to receive information on family planning without having to provide a marriage license. When Cory Aquino became president, she went a different direction from Marcos’s policies for population control. President Cory Aquino adhered to the Church’s support for a more natural method of family planning.
Because of this POPCOM used more conservative methods to promote family planning and couples using birth control dropped from 45% in 1986 to 36% in 1988