Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birth control is an electoral issue, says new survey

by Christine F. Herrera

Original Story:

SOME 87 percent of Filipinos will vote for a presidential candidate who advocates a reproductive health program, while 64 percent will elect one who promotes modern methods of family planning, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Pulse Asia, asked 1,800 registered voters about their views on family planning between Feb. 21 and 25. The study was commissioned by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population Development shortly after Catholic bishops attacked Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral for distributing free condoms on Valentine’s Day.

Some 91 percent of the respondents were Catholics who said they disagreed with the Chuch’s position that it is a sin to use contraceptive devices such as pills, condoms and injectables, or to undergo ligation or vasectomy.

Nine of 10 adult Filipinos said the ability to control fertility or plan the family was very important, 2 percent said it was not, and 8 percent were undecided.

Some 75 percent said it was very important or important that family planning be included in a candidate’s program of action, while 6 percent said it was not. Nineteen percent were undecided.

“The Pulse Asia survey only proves that the voters are clearly aware that the Church should not meddle in RH [reproductive health] issues,” said Professor Edna Co of the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of House Bill 5043, which seeks to establish a national policy on reproductive health, population development and family planning, said the tremendous public support for RH issues should jolt the candidates into refraining from their “flip-flopping and wishy-washy positions.”

“Legislating a national policy on RH is imperative because it will institutionalize family planning and avoid vague and varying positions and idiosyncrasies of local executives,’’ he said.

“This will also assure funding that would afford Filipinos ready access to birth control devices that are rights-based and health-propelled.”

Alberto Romualdez, vice president of The Forum for Family Planning and Development, said that when he had led the Health Department, the United States Agency for International Development started stopping the free distribution of birth control devices, prompting the Estrada administration to allocate P150 million for pills and condoms.

Original Story:

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