Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today criticized President Arroyo’s SONA double talk on the government’s population policy as one driven by her administration’s need for survival. “Nakakadismaya na maging sa usapin ng panganganak at matris ng kababaihan ay nagsisinungaling pa rin si Presdiente Arroyo.”

“At her SONA, President Arroyo claimed to have successfully reduced the country’s population growth rate through natural family planning and glossed over the fact that the government has also been implementing artificial family planning methods. P180M have been allocated in the 2007 General Appropriations Act for Family Planning and Reproductive Health, including P150M for the distribution of artificial family planning commodities and education. Moreover, the Arroyo government has been receiving USAID grants for artificial family planning,” said Maza.

“Moreover, hard data do not support the President’s claim. The UP Population Institute reveal that only 15.1% of married women aged 15-49 are using natural and traditional family planning methods while 35.6% are using artificial contraception.”

“President Arroyo lied. But by towing the line of influential Catholic groups for natural family planning methods in her SONA, President Arroyo is impeding the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill pending in Congress.”

According to Maza, “Promoting natural family planning as a national policy would automatically limit women and couples’ choices, by making alternative family planning methods unavailable; it is tantamount to denying their basic right to women’s healthcare and to choose.”

“We are a country where about 10 to 12 women die every day due to pregnancy-related causes. Maternal mortality rate is at 162, still a far cry from the Millennium Development Goal target of 52. UNESCO statistics puts us at #49 among countries with high maternal mortality rates. Education and reproductive healthcare alternatives must be made available to women if we are to address maternal mortality and women’s reproductive healthcare in our country.”

The Gabriela solon called for the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill pending in Congress. “A pro-women, pro-poor healthcare policy inevitably includes the provision of reproductive healthcare services, facilities and alternatives.” #


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