RH Bill is PRO-Youth By Rep. Raymond Palatino, Kabataan Partylis

Kabataan Partylist, the only youth party-list group in Congress, reiterates its stand in favor of a legislated reproductive health program that would address pertinent and urgent issues and concerns of the youth sector, particularly the injurious situations of young men and women: unwanted pregnancies, abortion among teenagers, the unabated spread of sexually transmitted diseases and maternal mortality.

We support the RH bill because it emphasizes and reinforces the long-neglected responsibility of the State to provide the citizens, especially the marginalized, their reproductive health needs. For so long, the government has shunned this very important duty to profit-oriented and private health institutions that remain inaccessible to the poor. Furthermore, it has not mustered enough political will and concern for the marginalized women and youths as it remains afraid to challenge some antiquated beliefs of the influential church hierarchy. The failure to institute a reproductive health program at this crucial time would only prolong the agony of the sectors most affected by the crisis in our health system.

The State shall provide the youth with a comprehensive reproductive health program because it is its duty, as enshrined in our Constitution, to "promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being." Republic Act 8804 defines "youth" as the critical period in a person's growth and development from the onset of the adolescence towards the peak of mature, self-reliant and responsible adulthood. Left uncared for and ignored, young men and women at this stage of their lives would experience problems with their reproductive health. At present:

  • Young pregnancies (15-24 years of age) account for 30% of all births. Three out of four young women die especially since young pregnant women are prone to pregnancy complication.
  • There are six new and unique detections of HIV everyday, 59% of which is in the 20-29 years old bracket and 28 percent belong to the 15-24 age range.
  • 73.4% of females and 35.% of males in the 15-24 age bracket experience reproductive health problems.

A key provision in the bill, for instance, is the mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education. A staunch advocate of education reforms, Kabataan Partylist believes that sexuality and reproductive health education is badly needed as the Filipino youth are becoming more vulnerable to reproductive health problems and unintended and unwanted pregnancies. Studies show that implementing sex education in schools allows the youth to have proper understanding of sexual values and this helps them in delaying their initiation to sexual relations. The youth's right to informed choice must also be upheld at all times by the State. Young Filipinos deserve to be informed and be more  aware of their bodies and reproductive health rights.

SOURCE : http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=200&articleId=693888

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