Over the years, the infamous Republic Act No. 10354—colloquially known as the RH Bill but now called the RH Law—has been constantly delayed in implementation due to the uprising of the church and pro-life groups. Although the bill has long been passed, there seems to be little to no change in the healthcare scene as there still seems to be no rush in implementing it.
In this day and age, population control and family planning are becoming more and more important. It prioritizes children’s quality of life—which is what everyone wants at the end of the day. In the Philippines, this is often overlooked and glossed over; most Filipinos just cannot seem to grasp how important this bill is and what it can contribute to our society.
Do seek a doctor
An overview of the RH law would give us the impression that it’s more of a means to maintain population growth, provide reproductive rights to women and their children, and lessen accidental pregnancies in families. Although these are a huge part of it, it’s not solely confined to that. The RH Law not only focuses on mothers and families, but also to adolescents on the cusp of their puberty years.
The latter part of puberty has teenagers going out and experimenting that would require a few background checks once in awhile. This makes them vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many people who have contracted STDs are almost immediately deprived of various opportunities and, more often than not, shunned by society. It’s best to find out whether you have it or not, so you can act on it earlier in your life.
While it is equally important for us to become more accepting of people afflicted with STDs, the RH law also helps people with STD cope with their condition psychologically.
The saying prevention is better than the cure is truly applicable in this situation. It is best to consult with a doctor for a thorough examination. Sure, it may be awkward, but doctors deal with people and their bodies for a living—they’re experienced when it comes to these things. Do not feel intimidated by your doctor. It may feel like a confession session between you and a priest with God watching from above, but being honest and open will be a big help in the assessment.
It helps to keep in mind that you are not the going to be the first—or the last—person to approach a doctor with such inquiries. Slowly getting used to this kind of interaction between you and your doctor would lessen awkwardness in future appointments and serve as an example to those next in line. Furthermore, it will also prove to be highly beneficial for you to thoroughly know your body, as the knowledge will definitely help in maintaining it in good condition.
Go over the counter
Pro-life groups, as well as the Catholic Church itself, have campaigned against contraceptives through the years, branding people who use them as promiscuous. It’s sadly uncommon knowledge that contraceptives do not just protect against unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, but also several medical conditions related to the reproductive system and the body in general.
Birth control pills, for example, help regulate periods, alleviate hormonal acne problems, and balance out hormones for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a chronic illness due to the lack of equilibrium in the levels of sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. PCOS requires proper maintenance and may even require a drastic change of lifestyle.
Contraception also affects the family unit both economically and psychologically. Families are more well-adjusted emotionally in a well-planned family, thus contributing to more financial stability—in comparison to children living in a family brimming with siblings from unplanned pregnancies. There have been far too many situations where older children have to stop schooling for their parents to be able to send their younger siblings to school, after all.
Unplanned pregnancies actually do more harm than good to the family; it negatively impacts the physical, social, and economic health of both the parent and the child. It has also been associated with a variety of societal issues such as child abuse, deterioration of the parents’ relationship, and poverty.
We’re lucky enough to have access to a couple of contraceptives, with some of them available without a doctor’s prescription. Of course, the more advanced and expensive ones have to be administered in hospitals and clinics, but that doesn’t mean the ones you can get over the counter aren’t as effective.
Shake off the judgmental looks you possibly get from the person at the cashier or to the person next in line. Instead, think of it as supplying yourself with what your body and your future needs, and remember that your body is strictly your business alone.
Do your research
The RH law hopes to change the game of the sexual and reproductive education that we have today. The introduction of brand new contraceptive methods comes new information regarding side effects, procedures, and benefits, while the early introduction of sexual education in teenagers comes better decision making when it comes to various sexual activities.
The RH law promises to provide a better sexual education curriculum to be included in the K-12 system. For college students it can begin with a simple inquiry on what you want find out—this would lead you to an endless spiral of terms you probably can’t even pronounce. It’s difficult to absorb every nook and cranny of the information on the internet, but you can always ask a professional or even a friend who understands it a little better than you do.
If you’re due for another checkup or haven’t even started, now is the time to do so. February is Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness month—that’s one of the many reasons why you should allot some time to get checked and treated.
Contraception provides more control with regard to the population. Overpopulation is not just a problem in the Philippines, but in other countries as well. It strains the economy, which in turn strains the government’s ability to provide public services such as education and recreation. It also strains the environment, as a growing population requires more natural resources to sustain.
The Filipino people, especially those living in poverty, should be reeducated and given tangible options to plan their families. Mere abstinence is not enough, and never will be. This is where the RH bill takes over; it is one of the solutions to the problems we’re dealing with currently: Overpopulation, health risks, the stigma of STDs, and everyone’s overall wellbeing. Celebrate reproductive health month by knowing about and taking care of your body.