Talks about the controversial RH bill has taken over our media scene, online and local communities like villages & schools. Both sides feel strongly about their stand on the issue and there are times that I really want to butt in when I encounter debates about it. But most of the time, I can’t seem to find the right words for what I mean to say, so let me just show you the best way I know how.
These photos were taken for Moms for Moms Philippines in April 2, 2009. It the first time we visited the Jose Fabella Hospital, a government birthing hospital in Manila, and THIS IS WHY I AM FOR THE RH BILL. -Sheila
An excerpt from my multiply entry a few days after we went home that day:
“Are you ready?” Rea asked, as we walked across the entrance of the ER. A woman was brought out of the ambulance in a stretcher, her legs stained with blood, ready to give birth. There were pregnant women everywhere – in the hallways, sitting on the steps, walking around just waiting for their turn. I knew I had to brace myself for this.
The scent was familiar. It’s only been 6 months since I got out of the hospital after giving birth to our first baby. Had I been there a couple of years ago, it would have been different. But as we walk into what was 4 rooms full of maybe a hundred of bassinets or more, I felt my knees weaken and my heart crumble. I look through the viewfinder and get ready to shoot, but all I see is a blur as tears start to well up. My heart was pounding to the rhythm of infants crying in chorus. I turn my head, three babies are sharing one bassinet while the other had two. One baby’s face is already pushed against the other’s knee. Can he still breathe? I look the other way and one baby’s arm is as thin as my finger. There are tubes and needles, bottles of fluids running through their tiny bodies. Due to the lack of linens, three newly delivered babies share what looked like an old hand towel to keep them warm. Each was labeled with a medicine box cutout attached to their wrists with a string like a piece of evidence. It was hard to believe all of it was real. I knew there were going to be a lot of babies, but not like this. It was beyond what I expected. To say it was heartbreaking would be an understatement.
I’ve never seen so many babies all in one place at the same time, and seeing them in this condition just didn’t feel right. But this is how it’s always been in Fabella. Due to the sheer volume of women giving birth each day, some have to go home a few hours after delivery while others who can’t share a tandem bed with 2-3 others to be able to rest. According to a social worker we talked to, some of them don’t even want to leave. To them, it’s a roof over their heads, a soft bed and regular meals. For their children, it’s a far better environment to survive in for their first few days of life.
It’s a sad reality to face, but it’s real nonetheless.
Make an informed stand and read the full RH Bill here.