By MIA FREEDMAN
For decades, the contraceptive pill has been allowing women to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
And now it’s saving poverty stricken countries.
Or at least it could be.
The president of The Philippines, Benigno Aquino, wants to give people free access to the pill as a means to save his country from it’s current poverty-ridden state.
If the Reproductive Health Bill is passed by the government, it will not only give the Filipino people access to free birth control, but also access to sex education.
The idea is that the combination of education and contraception will allow families to limit the number of children they’re having. And that in turn means less children born into poor families.
How revolutionary. And brilliant. And also obvious. Surely there are lessons here for other countries including Western ones?
The Philippines has one of the fastest growing populations of South East Asia – but they also have a population that is extremely poor. In one of the countries biggest cities, Mindanao, 30.3 per cent of people had nothing to eat for at least one day in the three months to August, according to this recent report.
So if the people can’t afford food, what’s the chance they can afford contraception?
Not a lot.
39-year-old Cabiya-an is the kind of woman who’s family would benefit from the pill bill. Cabiya-an has 14 children – the oldest in 22 and the youngest is 11 months – and lives in a hut in the Manila slum.
This from NBS News:
“It’s tough when you have so many children,” said Cabiya-an, a shy smile revealing poor teeth. “I have to count them before I go to sleep to make sure no one’s missing.”
At one time Cabiya-an had access to contraception but Manila mayor Jose Atienza, a devout Catholic, swept contraceptives from the shelves of city-run clinics in 2000.
With income of about 7,600 pesos ($180) a month from doing laundry and her husband’s pay as a laborer, Cabiya-an has only been able to send five of her children to school.
The others would appear doomed to join the quarter of the country’s 95 million people stuck below the poverty line.