Poor women speak on RH; is anyone listening?

By: Mary Racelis • Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the seemingly endless agonizing of religious officials and associated lay followers over when life begins, whether some contraceptives are abortifacient, or which contributes more to poverty—inequitable resource distribution or population increase—almost totally ignored are the voices of those who bear and care for more children than they want—our poor women.

How ironic that the women most affected by the decisions of political and religious leaders about their wombs and sexual behavior, are accorded the least say on their expressed need for reproductive health services. Although it is their lives that hang in the balance, celibate males and conservative Catholic laity unabashedly speak for them in these matters. Let us for a change listen to poor women’s voices, as articulated in empirical studies like Likhaan’s “Imposing Misery: The Impact of Manila’s Ban on Contraception.” (2007) It details some of the effects of former Mayor Lito Atienza’s Executive Order 003 passed in 2000 declaring total commitment and support only to natural family planning methods.

Rosario (fictitious name to protect her identify) speaks: “I feel anxious and fearful of the chance of getting pregnant if I don’t have money to buy pills, unlike before when I used to get injectables for free, which were very convenient and effective for months …. I got depressed when the mayor banned family planning. It was a big loss for many mothers…”

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