This whole mess with contraceptives in the Philippines is practically ‘killing women’

Women should be able to decide what to put in their own bodies. PHOTO:
Women should be able to decide what to put in their own bodies. PHOTO:

A Supreme Court hold order on parts of the reproductive health law hindering the registration of contraceptives is “killing women,” a health expert said.

The registration of several contraceptive products expired last year, and more are expected to expire this year and the next, said Dr. Junice Melgar, a member of the Department of Health’s national implementing committee for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10354).

“I think they are killing women. Last year, the registration of several products expired already. This year, we expect 62 percent to expire. Next year, a full 90 percent will be expiring. And by 2020, wala na pong contraceptives, nothing,” Dr. Melgar said during a recent forum in Taguig City.

Eventually, this shortage will affect millions of women who rely on contraceptives not only to avoid pregnancy, but to address other health issues as well, said House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano in a statement.

She urged the lifting of the temporary restraining order, saying it “has no basis in law.”

“This is a serious women’s issue that the public needs to understand. Gusto ng Supreme Court, bawat contraceptive brand magkakaroon ng public hearing (The Supreme Court wants every contraceptive brand to have a public hearing). But there is nothing in the law that says that, and so the High Court, with all due respect, cannot impose that,” she said.

The SC hold order, issued in 2015, bars government agencies from approving new registrations for contraceptives, which would allow them to be distributed and sold in the market. It also stopped the distribution of hormonal contraceptives Implanon and Implanon NXT, considered akin to abortifacients by pro-life activists.

Earlier this year, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) stressed the need for the lifting of the TRO, as they said it limits women’s contraceptive choices, and effectively allows the rise of unplanned pregnancies, including those of teenagers.

The health department also expressed concern at the looming shortage, with Health Secretary Jean Roselyn-Ubial saying that while still able to provide registered contraceptives, the TRO will cause them to eventually run out of supplies.

In March, President Rodrigo Duterte said that while he “hates” abortion, he supports artificial family-planning methods.

An online petition created by the Purple Ribbon for RH movement, seeking the lifting of the hold order had 28,520 supporters as of this writing.

This story first appeared on ABS-CBN News and republished with permission.

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