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Reproductive health bill, family planning education backed

MAJORITY OF FILIPINOS favor the passage of the reproductive health (RH) bill and want family planning education taught in public schools, a new survey from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.

The results, found in the SWS’ third quarter Social Weather Survey that was made exclusive to Business-World, showed that 71% of Filipinos want Congress to pass the controversial RH bill while 76% back a law that would require public schools to teach family planning education.

Similar findings were announced yesterday by the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. which had commissioned the SWS to conduct a poll on public sentiment regarding contraception.

That survey, announced in a briefing yesterday, found that 68% of Filipinos would back a law requiring the government to distribute contraceptives, and that 54% did not believe family planning education would promote promiscuity.

Forum president Benjamin D. de Leon said "We feel vindicated that we are on the right track to give people informed choices."

The Catholic Church strongly opposes approval of the RH bill, which it claims is immoral and legalizes abortion.

"Morals, right or wrong, are not subject to numerical approval. Otherwise, people could just register their majority voice to do away with the Ten Commandments," Lingayen Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said in a text message to BusinessWorld.

The SWS third quarter survey said only 8% were opposed to the RH bill while 21% were undecided. For family planning education, 10% were against while 13% were undecided.

The RH bill calls for mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education, requires local governments to employ more midwives, and require state funding for contraceptives.

The nationwide survey was conducted over September 24-27, 2008 using face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults. Respondents were divided into random samples of 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao, and 600 in the Balance of Luzon.



The sampling error margins were �2.5% for national percentages, �6% for Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao, and �4% for the Balance of Luzon.

The SWS said 46% of the respondents were already aware of the RH bill prior to the survey.

It said support for the passage of the RH bill among those previously aware of it was an overwhelming 84%, and was at 59% among those who learned of it because of the survey.

Support from family planning education, meanwhile, was high in all areas: 78% in the Balance of Luzon, 77% in the Visayas, 76% in Metro Manila, and 72% in Mindanao. It was also high by class: 78% for the ABC and D classes and 71% among class E.

Support for both issues was strong among Catholic and non-Catholics. Seventy-six percent of Catholics and 78% of non-Catholics support family planning education for the youth, while 71% of Catholics and 68% of non-Catholics favored the RH bill.

It was the same case according to gender regardless of marital status, with 75% of male respondents and 77% of the women backing family planning education. For the RH bill, support was 70% among men and 71% among women.

Backing for family planning education was also high even among those against or undecided on the RH bill. Among the measure’s supporters, it was a high 80%; among its opponents, 68%; and for the undecided, 65%.

AKBAYAN party list Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel, one of the authors of the RH bill, said the results showed Filipinos want a comprehensive state family planning program.

"It’s a great affirmation that Filipinos are saying … we want a reproductive health bill and it’s a secular matter," she said.

For Parañaque Rep. Roilo S. Golez, an opponent of the RH bill, "It is a thorough issue and we need to explain it first before conducting surveys." — Alexis Douglas B. Romero and Emilia Narni J. David

Full report available at http://www.sws.org.ph/

- From Business World, October 16, 2008

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