Despite the lack of a Reproductive Health (RH) law,
midwives have been giving patients more contraception choices,
sometimes behind the government’s back.
Patricia Gomez of the Integrated Midwives’ Associations
of the Philippines told senators at a hearing on the
RH bill that members have been teaching their patients
about methods of contraception.
She said they even conduct door-to-door information drives
for women who cannot go to government health centers.
This, despite instructions from many local executives
to only promote natural family planning (NFP), the method
approved by the Church.
“They tell us that. But we know what the women need,”
Gomez said in Tagalog.
She explained NFP is not always the best choice for
couples especially in rural areas. Gomez said that
in many communities, a masculine culture means
men cannot always wait for the safe days to have sex.
“The father makes the decisions (on when to have intercourse),
but it’s the mother who has to deal with it,” she said.
The information drives are often conducted without government
funding and the midwives have to spend their own money.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lauded the midwives.
He said regional and barangay (village) health workers
have also been doing the same thing.
He said the fact that midwives see a need to provide
information on contraception methods even at their own
expense highlights the need for a reproductive health policy.
Emmeline Verzosa, executive director of the Philippine Commission
on Women, said any RH bill should include programs for
greater involvement of fathers in pregnancy and child-rearing.
With that, the decision to start a family or add a new child
to the family should be a decision made as a couple.
Verzosa added this can only be done if couples have all the
tools to make an informed choice.
Even then, she said, “the woman’s decision must prevail
because it’s her body.”
While mayor of Manila, Jose Atienza Jr. banned contraceptives from government hospitals and health centers in 2000.
The Commission on Human Rights ruled in October 2010 that the ban was discriminatory. It said Atienza violated the Magna Carta of Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Despite the CHR decision, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has not repealed the ban imposed by his predecessor and political rival.
Sometimes the paper I work for doesn’t use my stories
as submitted, probably for cause. I’ll post them here,