The past few weeks made us witnesses to impassioned debates surrounding the Reproductive Health Bill, with one side of the bench labeling itself as pro-choice and the other, pro-life. Controversial social legislations such as this generate heated public attention and for good reason – it opens up a democratic space for the public to participate in the creative process of legislation. Unfortunately, the cacophony of opposing positions and disparate opinions seems to have drowned out focus on what the issue is really about: THE RIGHT TO LIVE A LIFE OF HUMAN DIGNITY.
More than morality and anti-poverty, Reproductive Health is foremost about Human Rights. Reproductive Health is about the right of every person – regardless of sex, gender, age, social status, political or religious conviction – to the highest attainable standard of health. It is about the right of the woman to know how to take care of herself, take full control of her body and make life-changing decisions. It is about the right of everyone to information and the right to an informed choice on whether or not one wants to bring a new life into the world. It is about the right of the woman, the man and the child to live a life free from threats of diseases, hunger and want. It other words, Reproductive Health is about every single person having a shot at a life worthy of a human being. All these are human rights which the government of the Philippines is obligated to respect, protect, fulfill and promote under our Constitution and the various international treaties we signed and ratified.
The Commission on Human Rights, as the Gender Ombud under R.A. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, shall issue a comprehensive advisory on Reproductive Health in the next few days. In the meantime, may we enjoin the public to be guided by reason and not be overwhelmed by inordinate passion. After all, we are actually on the same side when we say that we are anti-abortion, anti-corruption, anti-poverty, pro-life and pro-choice.
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES
Commission on Human Rights
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