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Bicam approves RH bill

Posted at | Updated as of 12/20/12 4:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The bicameral conference committee approved the Reproductive Health (RH) bill on Wednesday.

In a press briefing, Senator Pia Cayetano said they've resolved contentious issues such as the role of the local government and the access of minors to reproductive health services.

She congratulated all the members of the bicameral conference committee for working hard to reconcile the two versions of the bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"I have to thank the House. They gave in to the Senate version precisely because there were so many amendments and different provisions so they allowed that to happen. The other times talagang pinagtiyagaan namin line by line. We crafted language that may not be perfect...I am pretty happy with it," she said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, said the reconciled version is a victory for both pro- and anti-RH advocates

Under the final version of the bill, the State shall give access to adolescents for age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate reproductive health education.

Cayetano said the term "adolescent" is the age from 10-19.

She said the bill also allows full access to reproductive health services to all except minors "unless they have the written consent of parents and except on certain cases for minors when the minor is already a parent or they had a miscarriage."

"In other words, they are sexually active so access is allowed," he said.

Lagman said the implementation of the soon-to-be-signed law is the responsibility of both the national government and local government units.

He said that under the law, private health facilities are mandated to extend family planning services "principally to paying patients but also free services to indigent patients."

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said the bill also expands the practice of the midwifery profession. She said that after appropriate training, midwives will be allowed to administer lifesaving drugs especially in areas where there are no doctors.

The bicameral conference committee report is set to be ratified this afternoon by both houses of Congress. -- With a report from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News