LOLP's Director of Communications Travels to Manila, Philippines


From left to right: Victor Barger; Katie Barger, LOLP Director of Communications; Jo Imbong, Senior Counsel for the St. Thomas More Society Law Center and Executive Director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines Legal Office; Jose Sandejas, Chairman of Pilipinas Hino, Inc.; Elenita Sandejas, President of Kalinangan Youth Foundation and Treasurer for the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines; and Tim Laws, Chairman of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines.
Pro-lifers in the Philippines are working hard to fight reproductive health legislation known as the RH Bill, which seeks to redefine the country’s definition of reproductive health and put it more in line with that of the international community.  
According to the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Programme of Action, reproductive health services should be universally available. The ICPD’s definition of reproductive health services not only includes making available to people the necessary components for a “satisfying and safe sex life,” but it also includes access to abortion. Based on recommendations discussed in the ICPD’s Programme of Action as well as in other international documents such as the Beijing Declarations, the United Nations, in collaboration with groups such as the U.S.-based Center for Reproductive Rights, wants the Philippine Congress to “install a ‘right’ to sexual and reproductive health.”
“The whole point behind all RH legislation in the Philippines is a design to apply and extend international human rights law into sexual and reproductive entitlements in this country,” says Jo Imbong, Senior Counsel for the St. Thomas More Society Law Center and Executive Director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines Legal Office in her paper entitled “Questionable Rights Rhetoric in Reproductive Health Legislation.”
This “right to health,” she says, will be used to “evolve and justify the right to abortion as a component of reproductive health.”
Also discussed in the RH Bill is the implementation of sex education in the Filipino school system, something Imbong as well as her colleagues at the Alliance for the Family Foundation are strongly against. 
If approved, textbooks provided by the U.N. would discuss safe sex rather than abstinence. Further, the RH Bill would “recognize and guarantee the promotion of the welfare and rights of children” to the extent that young girls would have access to “all reproductive information and services, including abortion, without parental notification or consent.”
The battle against the RH Bill in the Philippines is not an isolated one. Recently, Uruguay’s Parliament voted to legalize elective abortion after international pressure from the U.N. and various pro-choice NGOs led the Uruguayan government to determine that abortion would not only help the country decrease its maternal mortality rate (MMR), but that it is in fact a basic human right set out in international law. 
LOLP offered not only prayer support for the pro-life leaders in the Philippines, but also submitted to them a letter LOLP sent to Uruguay’s Parliament prior to its decision to legalize elective abortion (See our blog article about Uruguay here.) The letter cited several important international documents as well as a May 2012 study regarding maternal mortality rates that pro-lifers in the Philippines will be able to use in their own advocacy against the RH Bill.
* The information provided in this article as well as statements made by Mrs. Imbong can be found in Mrs. Imbong's paper "“Questionable Rights Rhetoric in Reproductive Health Legislation,” which she presented at the University of Asia and the Pacific Faculty Forum, May 4, 2011 and the Forum for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila, San Carlos Seminary, Makati City, May 10, 2011.