After reading the explanatory note, the next part to read in a bill is the very text itself which follows some fairly standard form and content.
Thus, in the case of the main RH bill as expressed in HB 96, perhaps, the real important sections worth our attention should include, among others, those of Sections 7 (access to family planning), 20 (implementing mechanisms), and 22 (prohibited acts).
Under Section 3 (guiding principles) alone, those inclined to side against the RH bill might feel misguided by the many assumptions laid down.
Furthermore, in Section 4 (definition of terms), there appears to be at least six terms that are worth reflecting, namely – ‘family planning, modern methods of family planning, reproductive health care, reproductive health care program, reproductive health rights, and access to family planning’.
The provision, “The State shall promote, without bias, all modern natural and artificial methods of family planning that are medically safe, legal and effective”, literally understood, simply implies that it opened the floodgate for preventing pregnancy. When this happens, the pill, the IUD, the condom – all these – could be made readily available in the market.
In fact, the bill’s definition of reproductive health care is too encompassing as when it is defined as the “access to a full range of methods, techniques, facilities and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being”.
One can easily imagine what the ‘enabling environment’ would be once this bill gets passed especially so that a leading newspaper has played ‘poster boy’ for this controversial piece of legislation. As we know, McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” never ceased to impact strongly on a reading universe. The Fourth Estate can play tyranny, in one way or other, come to think of it.
From where I stand, there lurk unseen dangers in having this bill approved without much needed academic, scientific, and political discourse. Unfortunately, we experience a semblance that the railroad tracks are already there and as if we are just waiting for the train to arrive.
Pray not. There are high social, economic, and legal issues that have yet to be threshed out unless a hasty approval of the bill will become the norm.