Parental consent, sex ed tackled in RH bicam

Posted at 12/19/12 12:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A provision requiring minors to get the approval of their parents before having access to family planning services is expected to be a contentious issue at the bicameral conference meeting on the reproductive health (RH) bill.

The meeting was convened on Wednesday morning, two days after both houses of Congress approved the RH bill on final reading.

During the pre-bicameral conference a day earlier, some lawmakers from the House of Representatives expressed reservations about the parental consent requirement, a key amendment by Sen. Ralph Recto in the Senate version of the measure.

Rep. Janette Garin said it would limit people's access to reproductive health services. She proposed that the requirement be waived under certain circumstances, like if a minor is already pregnant.

Other contentious provisions are the removal of the mandate to provide reproductive health services from local government units and private hospitals, and doing away with the requirement for private schools to give sex education.

"It's just a matter of discussing with  the sponsor of the amendments kung kaya nilang magbigay," said  Sen. Pia Cayetano, a sponsor of the RH bill.

Recto said he is open to discussing some of his amendments, although he earlier warned that he may withdraw his support for the measure if these were removed.

"Basta something reasonable or sensible, lagi nating pakikinggan," he told reporters.

Cayetano hopes to finish reconciling the House and Senate versions of the RH bill and have the consolidated measure ratified by both houses within the day.

Asked about the possibility of ratifying the bill on Wednesday, the last day of session before Congress goes on Christmas break, Cayetano said, "That would be ideal."

The bicameral conference meeting was ongoing as of posting time.