Vote for electoral candidates who support the reproductive health and rights of women, children and men, and reject what it calls many “misleading” and “confusing” statements of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila in its recently issued Ten Commandments for Pro-Life and Family Voters.

            This was the appeal made during the Candidate’s Forum sponsored by the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), the Alliance for Choice and Empowerment (A-FORCE), and the WOMENLEAD Foundation.

Atty. Claire Angeline P. Luczon, Executive Director of the WOMENLEAD Foundation emphasized: “Reproductive health and rights is NOT just about population control. It is not simply about national demographics and keeping birth rates down. Reproductive rights are about upholding the human right of every human being, especially women and girl-children.” “Reproductive rights is about the empowerment of each person woman, man and child to decide for her/himself about her life, her body, her mind and her spirit, free from discrimination, coercion and violence; and to have access to facilities, resources and services to realize these decisions unhampered by poverty, ignorance and fear,” added Atty. Luczon.

Reacting to the Church’s voters’ commandments against reproductive health, Luczon said, “It is unfair for the church to demonize candidates who support absolute divorce, use of modern methods of contraceptives, sex education among the youth, and same sex unions.” According to Luczon, “to demonize these candidates is to dehumanize the people whose lives will be greatly improved by these advocacies.”

According to Womenlead, studies now show that 17 million Filipino women had more children than they intended to have; 473,000 abortions occur annually with around 800 women dying from complications of unsafe abortion.

All the problems cited, according to Womenlead, result from the State’s denial of the reproductive rights of the Filipino people. Womenlead also cited the recent survey of Pulse Asia which shows that 92% of Filipinos want family planning and 89% believe that government should provide family planning measures.

“We do not need elected officials who will use their position and power to impose their own religious beliefs upon others, even upon those who are not of the same religion or belief. A government leader is the servant of Catholics and non-Catholics alike and he/she has no right to violate the rights and freedoms of others in the guise of religion and belief. To do so would be undemocratic, unjust and oppressive.”

Thus, according to Atty. Luczon, “What we need are government leaders who

will listen to the needs of the people, especially the marginalized. We want leaders who understand the people’s issues and who will champion laws and policies that respect, protect and promote their human rights.”