Senate disallows minors’ access to contraceptives on RH bill

December 12, 2012 11:16 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Dec. 12 – The Senate adopted Wednesday an amendment removing a provision in the controversial Reproductive Health bill that allows minors to have access to contraceptives.

Voting 9-7, the senators agreed to Sen. Ralph Recto’s amendment to remove the line “no person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial” inserted in Section 7 of the proposed Senate Bill 2865 or An Act Providing for a National Policy on RH and Responsible Parenthood.

Recto introduced amendment that would require minors to produce written parental consent before they can be given access to contraceptives.

"I don't think any parent would allow their (sic) children who are minors to go to government health centers where they would be given contraceptives," Recto pointed out.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, co-sponsor of the bill, defended that provision, saying it would prevent increase of teens pregnancy if the access to contraceptives is guided with proper counseling and education.

”HIV is on the rise involving 14 to 24 years old. It's the reality. I’m not promoting sex education among minors but we have to face the reality that teens are exposed without proper guidance. I would like to retain the provision provided counseling should be a perquisite,” Cayetano said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who openly opposed the measure, supported the amendment of Recto, saying teens should not be given access to contraceptives and allow them to have sex.

"If we allow this provision, does this mean the state will allow children to have sex as long as they (can use protection)?" Sotto asked.

Cayetano explained that minors technically do not seek permission of their parents in making decisions.

"Let's be real. What child would ask permission from their parents to have sex? If that would be made a requirement, we won't be able to help those who would really need help," Cayetano said.

Despite Cayetano’s explanation, majority of the senators felt that the provision should not be included in the measure.

Aside from Recto, senators Edgardo Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan II, Ramon Revilla, Jr. , Sotto, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Joker Arroyo voted not to delete the provision.

Cayetano got the support of her brother Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and Sergio Osmena III.

Sotto promised to propose his own amendments Monday next week and vote it on second reading.

To allow three-day rule, the Senate will extend session Thursday to pass the bill on third and final reading before adjourning for Christmas break. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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