Sex and the RH Law

From slideshare. Dr. Darleen Estuart's slides: "Reproductive Health and Responsible Sexuality", presented at the Mindanao Young Women Leader's Congress, 2011

From slideshare. Dr. Darleen Estuart’s slides: “Reproductive Health and Responsible Sexuality”, presented at the Mindanao Young Women Leader’s Congress, 2011.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that after a draining day at work, you find a post that gets your blood pressure up again.

So Tito Sotto and Loren Legarda have made budget cuts against the Reproductive Health Law. Somehow I am not surprised.They will both claim “personal/religious convictions” and “prioritization of other more important matters” in their decision; but the truth is, they find it easy to undermine a law that would give more reproductive freedom for women because they have never been …

  1. A 35 year old multigravid with a pedicab driver for a partner who depends on free RH services at the health center to limit her pregnancies …
  2. A doctor/nurse/midwife who works as a frontliner in said health center who feels helpless when the multigravid comes to her and the only thing you can offer is “counselling on natural family planning” — which does not work, by the way; the 35-year-old-multigravid has tried it before ….
  3. A 16 year old teenager whose parents both have lover number 2; the teenager wants to leave the family house to live with her 18 year old “kargador” boyfriend who at least has a job ….
  4. A barangay health worker (BHW) who wants to help this teenager but is feeling very demoralized because the program for teenage pregnancy prevention will not take off because of lack of funds. Imagine, there has been a so-called Adolescent health program for years, but it’s all on paper. So BHW is embarrassed with the community because this program is just a bunch of crap …. because the policy makers wouldn’t put their money (which is actually not their money, but the people’s money) where their effing mouths are ….
  5. A 40 year old multigravid who wants a bilateral tubal ligation and (at the moment) can’t get it for free because the hospital says she has to buy this and that medication for the procedure. Ah yes, Philhealth did say BTLs are free — well Philhealth kindly have discussion with hospital regarding the definition of “free” ….
  6. A  nurse working for PopCom (Population Commission) who has just been told by the district health officer that no we are not offering  the very effective contraceptive implant at the moment because there are no supplies coming from the central office. Poor PopCom nurse, who has to explain this to the young mothers who just want to space their pregnancies and want to use a convenient way to do it.

…. etc etc

It can be very hard to empathize with women who want reproductive health services because hey, it wouldn’t kill them not to have sex, right? They would just have to abstain or use natural family planning methods or the withdrawal method. Yes I am being sarcastic. And by the way, the withdrawal method is not a reliable form of contraception, having a failure rate of more than 20%.

Seriously! Has Tito Sotto tried withdrawal before? Has Loren? Have they tried calendar, Billing’s, BBT;  and do they know how much commitment and effort is required of a couple who wants to use these methods?

I mean … is sex such a luxury in this country? If you are poor, better forego sex and be celibate if you don’t want to get pregnant?

I find it ironic: in a world where sex is so common (in television, in movies — commodities that we sell to poor women, and which they buy, because hey it is entertainment and some of us really need to be entertained to forget the drudgery of our lives), it is also a world that deprives women of opportunities to have freedom over their bodies.

If I am a girl ( oh fuck! I am one) I would like my government to help me achieve the maximum amount of freedom I can have with my body. A lot of people (mostly men) would not agree. They would say, reproductive health and all things related to sex are private that should not be meddled with by the government. But …. love and marriage are also private things, a compact between two people, but we all know the government has a lot to say about them.



  1. Thank you again for picking this up and kudos for continuing the conversation and taking it to a new level with an honest and realistic view of human sexuality. Will post link to this post on the Sotto article so more people can appreciate your insight. Ang galing!


  2. Thank you 🙂

    RH is a topic that I am very emotional about. My husband often jokes that the way to rile me is to make a comment against RH.

    I know that we all have deep seated beliefs about lifestyle and the limits of freedom that we can have with our bodies. I respect that. However, I am incensed at the way that we tend to intellectualize or philosophize about the need for reproductive health services when what we should do is to go into the community and interact with the women who really need these services, who cannot pay for these services from the private sector because they want to prioritize other things like their children’s food or education.

    By the way, men also have need for RH services. I’m sure there are guys out there who would want condoms or vasectomies, although I have yet to meet one. However, the burden of limiting pregnancies, at least in our society/culture usually rests with women.

    My sister [who holds a different belief from me, she being a member of a highly conservative religious sect — but I love her nevertheless:) ] says that the government should put the money for contraception to education or food programmes instead. That’s all ok. But the thing is, women need contraception NOW; because they are in relationships with men that involve having sex.

    Of course, we can hold a policy that would, in effect, tell these women (and the men in their lives) – “hey, since you do not have the resources to have sexual relations that would not result in an unintended pregnancy, then you shouldn’t have sex”. That’s what the conservatives would want to tell these women and men. But would that be fair? If we are a labandera or an unemployed housewife whose husband earns a measly 300 pesos a day, what would we feel about a statement like that?


    1. Ah yes, education and food programmes, they’re important too. And it’s not as if the government is not already subsidizing those, at least and more so in so far as education is concerned. But the bigger the Filipino family gets the more the government will have to subsidize.

      Empowering women to be able to decide on the number of children they wish to have, in the end, actually relieves the pressure and burden on the government and allows it to focus on and channel funds to other meaningful initiatives, like maybe on improving the overall quality of public education, content-wise and infrastructure-wise.

      Finally, telling people or even just insinuating that they ought not to have sex if they don’t have money for pills or condoms is not only not fair, it’s being unrealistic to say the least. And actually quite dumb. 🙂


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