With 6 session days left, Akbayan Party –list reiterates the call to bring the Reproductive Health Bill to plenary despite CBCP’s proclamation of the bill as “antifamily” and “morally reprehensible”.

“What is morally reprehensible is to keep the reproductive rights of Filipinas at the mercy of the church’s political opinion,” Akbayan Party-list Representative Walden Bello said on Monday.

It was reported that the Church issued a pastoral letter on Sunday advising the people to “follow their conscience” in considering votes for the May 2010 polls. “Does it sit well with our conscience that families are condemned to poverty owing to the lack of means for effective family planning? Or that there are rising numbers of people infected by sexually transmitted diseases due to the lack of decent information?” Bello reacted to the statement.

“Akbayan is not threatened by the Church’s brand of black mail,” Bello added. “We stand firm in the belief that Filipino men and women alike deserve a reproductive health act that will empower them to improve their lives.”

In Dec. 27, the church released the Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections that declares it “would not be morally permissible to vote for candidates who support antifamily policies, including reproductive health.”

“As congress, we must assert our independence from the church’s opinion and maintain the fine secular line between the functions of the church and the state,” Bello continued.

“Congress must remember that we cater to a broader constituency that extends beyond the members of the Catholic church,” Bello argued. “It is our moral and political duty to ensure that people are empowered to make better decisions and improve their lives, especially in terms of reproductive rights that, all throughout history, have been abused.”

Akbayan has been at the forefront of the struggle to institutionalize reproductive health since the 8th congress, and this is the closest the bill has come to being voted upon by the legislative body. “We’ve come too far to fail Filipinas, our mothers, sisters, and daughters, once again. We have 6 session days left to prove that we are not representatives of the dogmatic and myopic views of the church, but of the true interest of the Filipino people,” Bello concluded.