MANILA, Philippines — The original provision in the Reproductive Health (RH) Law that mandates distribution of contraceptives to adolescents who have either given birth or had a miscarriage should be reinstated, a Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) official said Friday.
According to PopCom Executive Director and Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, the provision was removed by the Supreme Court, which declared it unconstitutional as teenage pregnancy was not labeled before as a social problem.
“We follow the law in implementing the RH law. The Supreme Court just required, actually, they threw away one section of the law, hindi ito (this is not) constitutional when it says that adolescents who already have children or had a miscarriage can access services with no need of consent,” Perez said during the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City.
(We follow the law in implementing the RH law. The Supreme Court just required, actually, they threw away one section of the law, [this is not] constitutional when it says that adolescents who already have children or had a miscarriage can access services with no need of consent)
“Sabi ng Supreme Court ‘hindi pwede, sabi naman ng estado hindi nila problema ‘yong teen pregnancy, hindi kailangan ‘yan’. But now we are saying it’s a problem, it’s an emergency. So dapat ibalik ng Kongreso ang provision na ‘yon that the Supreme Court took out,” he added.
(The Supreme Court said that “it is not needed, while the state said that teenage pregnancy was not its problem, its not needed.” But now we are saying it’s a problem, it’s an emergency. So Congress must put back that provision that the Supreme Court took out.)
The Reproductive Health Law is a very controversial topic in the Philippines, with religious groups opposing what they perceive to be a form of abortion. Before it was enacted, the measure faced several obstacles, including strong lobbying from the Roman Catholic Church.
However, even after the law was enacted, issues still continued to hound it. Implementation of the law took a step back after SC heeded the call of conservative groups, issuing a temporary restraining order against the distribution of several contraceptives.
Numbers presented by Perez and his fellow resource speakers like Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago and Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Executive Director Romeo Dongeto showed a staggering situation on teenage pregnancy in the Philippines.
Both Perez and Elago cited United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) figures, which said there have been 1.2 million adolescent Filipinos who have given birth in the last 10 years.
Currently, the country has one of the highest birth rates of adolescent women aged 15 to 19, pegged at 47 births per 1,000 women – only behind Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
Elago said the Philippines is losing around P33 billion yearly because of lost opportunities and additional burdens brought by teenage pregnancy.
Dongeto, meanwhile, stressed there may be a correlation between teenage pregnancy and sexual violence against adolescents, as they discovered that most of the teenage mothers were impregnated by men older than they are.
Edited by KGA
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