IS THE RH bill concealing its agenda through verbal engineering?

In her paper titled “Questionable Rights Rhetoric in Reproductive Health Legislation,” Jo Imbong, legal consultant of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, examined the “rights” language of the RH Bill—which seeks billion in taxpayers’ funds for a massive contraception and population control program.

RH advocates are condensing certain new “rights” into the traditionally accepted ones, making it hard to decipher which is which, she said.

“If language indicates legislative intent, even with the so-called amendments that would delete penalties, still, with the presence of the rights approach as explained herein, the bill’s human rights framework foreshadows an ominous rights landscape for the Philippines,” Imbong said.

Human to sexual rights

The goal of those pushing RH legislation in the Philippines is to apply and extend international human rights law into “sexual and reproductive entitlements” in the country, said Imbong.

The main players in this international lobby are treaty-monitoring bodies (TMB), from the United Nations, whose self-imposed function is to expand the interpretations of accepted international rights into vehicles for the advancement of the so-called “reproductive rights” agenda.

“The idea is to expand international laws well beyond their current scope and to impose new laws and entitlements (worldwide), even upon individual nations like the Philippines that do not explicitly assent to the changes,” Imbong said in an e-mail to the Varsitarian.

She cited eight fundamental human rights, which, she claimed, RH lobbyists twisted: rights to bodily integrity and personal security, to privacy, to scientific progress, to education, to equality in marriage and divorce, to information, to non-discrimination, and to health.

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Right to scientific progress, for example, was traditionally understood to relate to technology transfers between countries of the North and the South, according to Imbong.

“Today, it is interpreted by the TMB to also include a woman’s right to control her reproductive processes through access to methods of contraception, and access to safe abortion,” she said.

Imbong added that the right to education originally understood to be connected only to literacy now covers sex education by virtue of Sec. 16 of the RH bill.

‘Fetus’ is a retained material – RH lobbyists

Imbong believes that the right to health is used to justify the right to abortion, which is prohibited by the Philippine constitution, as a component of reproductive health.

She cited a report by the Center for Reproductive Rights-Philippines dated Aug. 8, 2006 sent to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which claimed that abortion is acceptable.

According to the report, “the constitutional provision equally protecting the unborn from contraception, however, does not prohibit abortion.”

Imbong also warned of the implications of Basic Emergency Obstetric Care provided the RH bill. This subsection states that the term should include, among others, “removal of retained products.”

“Is this the way to describe a human being in the womb?” Imbong said.

However, RH advocates continue to deny that the RH bill promotes abortion.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, one of the main authors of the Senate version of the bill, recently deleted a paragraph of Sec. 3 which states: “While this Act does not amend the penal law on abortion, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.”

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No ‘sexual rights’

Imbong said there is no international instrument that acknowledges reproductive and sexual rights.

“This fact [however] has not deterred the RH lobby and a way was found to slowly weave these so called ‘rights’ into a country’s legal system” she said.

Imbong recalled an incidence during Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 wherein a local non-government agency (NGO) in Marikina, one of the cities hit the hardest by the storm, distributed maternal care kits.

“Victims of the flood needing abortion kits and condoms? How about clean drinking water, food, medicine?” asked Imbong. Kristelle Ann A. Batchelor

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