Birth control proponents retreat on 2 key fronts

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2011

THE authors of the reproductive health bill have dropped a provision favoring two-child families and gave parents the option to opt out of sex education classes for their children, and in a bid to reduce opposition to the population management measure.

On the last session day before the Lenten recess, the bill’s authors, led by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, presented lawmakers with a watered-down version of the measure, even as Catholic bishops and their lay allies mobilized opposition against it.

On Friday, Catholic organizations bused in thousands of students from Catholic schools to join a prayer rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, closing off portions of Roxas Boulevard and causing heavy traffic. The rally came two days after the debates on the bill opened on the House floor.

Some 55 lawmakers who oppose the measure said they were not ready to question the bill’s supporters and insisted that the debates be moved to May 9, when Congress resumes its sessions.

Before the session closed, Lagman presented the plenary with a new version of the bill with five major amendments, including the deletion of an entire passage that favors two-child families.

The original passage read: “The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size. Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children.”

Lagman said the entire passage would be deleted, since the norm or ideal family size was neither mandatory nor punitive.

“Its total deletion will preclude further misinformation and misrepresentation as to the import of the provision. Moreover, its deletion will also underscore freedom of informed choice,” Lagman said in a letter to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Biliran Rep. Roger Espina, chairman of the House committee on health and family relations. The letter was based on plenary discussions.

Lagman and his allies also gave ground on mandatory age-appropriate sex education, which the bill mandates in both public and private schools.

A new paragraph adds an opt-out provision that reads:

“Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education.” –Christine F. Herrera, Manila Standard Today

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