Before a packed gallery of critics and supporters, authors of the controversial reproductive health bill today finally delivered their sponsorship speeches for House Bill 5043 setting up the stage for next week's interpellations of the bill.
For 14 years, bills promoting the use of contraceptives have always been blocked in Congress. It is the first time that such a bill reaches the plenary for second reading.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, South Cotabao Rep. Arthur Pinggoy, and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin were the first to deliver their speeches. Several more are expected to deliver speeches when session resumes on Monday.
“The RH bill could not have reached this stage of plenary consideration had it not been for the steadfast support and determination of RH advocacy groups… I am also deeply grateful to the 96 co-authors of HB 5043…These legislators, mostly Catholics, have braved the wrath of their bishops and certain sectors of the Catholic hierarchy,” Lagman said, reading a prepared speech.
“Finally, after the long wait, this controversial piece of legislation has reach the plenary deliberations,” said Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation Inc. (PLCPD), in a statement.
“We consider this day a victorious one for millions of men and women who have been denied access to reproductive health education and services. We are hopeful that this will turn out to be a productive deliberation that will end up in voting.” San Pascual added.
Lagman has been telling reporters that he is confident of the bill’s passage in this Congress.
HB 5043 doesn’t legalize abortion
In his speech, Rep. Pinggoy, who is the chair of the House committee on health, countered critics who say that HB 5043 legalizes abortion.
"It never legalizes abortion. It will never lead to the legalization of abortion. Or I would be in the forefront in opposing its passage," Pinggoy said.
“There is no rhyme or reason in the contention that contraception will lead to the legalization of abortion. Regular use of contraceptives effectively forecloses unplanned, mistimed, and unwanted pregnancies so much so that women do not have to resort to abortion and there is no need for the State to legalize abortion,” Lagman added.
“This bill is not solely about pills, condoms, and IUDs. Neither is it about sex, morality, or religion no matter how desperately its oppositors claim it is.
The heart and soul of the bill is freedom of informed choice. Neither the State nor the Church has the authority to impose its preferences or will on the citizens or the faithful,” Lagman said.