MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is opposing the reproductive health (RH) bill, also used contraceptive pills when she was younger, her former ally Rep. Edcel Lagman said Thursday.
Lagman, the main sponsor of the comprehensive RH bill in the lower House, lashed out at the Pampanga lawmaker and her allies for opposing the proposed legislation.
The former House minority leader said Arroyo has not fully explained her specific objections to the RH bill except for a claim that it is against her Catholic faith.
"Neither has she pointed out what particular provisions of the bill is she against," he said in a press statement.
"Arroyo's rejection of the RH bill is a departure from her admission that she used contraceptive pills when she was a young mother, presumably to limit the number of her children and for birth spacing," Lagman said. "She made this candid admission in March 2003 at a luncheon with pro-family planning legislators in Malacañang."
He accused Arroyo of "depriving Filipino women of the same right she herself enjoyed and the choice of availing themselves of non-abortive contraceptives."
"If a woman of means has the right to contracept, why should she deny other women, particularly in the marginalized sectors, from using contraceptives to meet their fertility goals and desired family size?" he said.
"If women are given the chance to make responsible family planning decisions, they almost always decide to have smaller families and their children will invariably be healthier, better educated and have at least a fighting chance of living full and dignified lives.
"Without this ability, most women will often find it more difficult -- some may find it impossible -- to finish their education, find remunerative work or have a say in their future.
"This is the ability and the future which the former President is denying her fellow Filipinas, particularly the poorest of the poor who undergo serial pregnancies," he added.
He also singled out current minority leader Rep. Danilo Suarez.
He said Suarez was earlier "a consistent and vocal" co-author the RH bill dating back to the 13th Congress.
"The withdrawal of some minority members as co-authors of the RH bill is a mere partisan support for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's opposition to the controversial measure," he added.
Arroyo has yet to comment on Lagman's statement.