High court stops DOH contraceptive implants
The Supreme Court has stopped the government from “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing and administering, advertising and promoting” contraceptive implants, pending the high court’s final disposition of an appeal to permanently ban the product for its alleged “abortifacient” side effects.
In a resolution issued on June 17 but released only late Thursday, the high court’s Second Division granted the petition of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (Alfi) for a temporary restraining order (TRO), barring the Department of Health (DOH) from acquiring and distributing contraceptive products Implanon and Implanon NXT to the public.
The implants, thin rods inserted under the skin, release hormones that prevent pregnancy for up to three years.
The TRO was “effective immediately and continuing until further orders of this court,” according to Second Division chair Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
The court also ordered respondents, including Health Secretary Janette Garin and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to comment on the petition within 10 days of notice.
The DOH has yet to file its legal comment on the petition.
Despite Implanon being approved by the FDA, Alfi claimed in its petition that the contraceptive implants were “known to have (an) abortifacient character.”
The TRO was the court’s initial action to the group’s petition for certiorari (or review of a lower court’s decision), on its contention that the use of Implanon was against the spirit of the reproductive health law.
Alfi’s petition had claimed that the health department’s manner of implementing the RH law had been “carried out without observance of due process and with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
It asked the high court to issue a blanket order stopping the “procurement, sale, distribution, dispensation or administration of reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices,” not just Implanon products, and “to cancel and withdraw (their) registrations or recertifications,” saying the FDA had allowed the sale of such products “without holding any hearing or consultation.”
The Supreme Court issued the TRO a year after ruling that the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 was constitutional. The law became effective on Jan. 17, 2013.
In The Know: Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Act of 2012
On April 8, 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously declared the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Act of 2012 “not unconstitutional.”
But the high court rejected eight of the law’s provisions, a ruling lauded by Catholic Church leaders and other opponents of the law.
Use of public funds
The ruling came more than a year after the law’s implementation was put on hold following petitions to declare the law unconstitutional from Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc. and other Catholic Church-affiliated groups.
The groups claimed that Republic Act No. 10354, signed by President Aquino in December 2012, would allow the state to use public funds to educate the youth on reproductive health and provide couples with contraceptives.
Declared unconstitutional by the high court were the following eight provisions in the RH law’s implementing rules and regulations:
Written parental consent
Section 7, which (a) requires private health facilities and nonmaternity specialty hospital, and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group to refer patients, not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under RA 8344, to another health facility which is conveniently accessible and (b) allows minor-parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian;
(RA 8344, otherwise known as the no-deposit law, prohibits the “no deposit, no admittance” rule in emergency or serious cases.)
Section 23 (a) (1) as it punishes any healthcare provider who fails, or refuses, to disseminate information regarding programs and services on reproductive health regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
Section 23 (a) (2) (i) as it allows a married individual, not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under RA 8344, to undergo RH procedures without the consent of the spouse;
Refusal to refer patients
Section 23 (a) (3) as it punishes any healthcare provider who fails and/or refuses to refer a patient not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under RA 8344, to another healthcare service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
Section 23 (b) as it punishes any public officer who refuses to support RH programs or (does) any act that hinders the full implementation of an RH program, regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
Pro bono services
Section 17, which renders pro bono RH services, insofar as they affect the conscientious objector in securing PhilHealth accreditation;
Section 3.01 (a) and (j) as it uses the qualifier “primarily” for contravening Section 4 (a) of the RH law and violating Section 12, Article II of the Constitution; and
Section 23 (a) (2) (ii) as it penalizes a health service provider who will require parental consent from the minor in nonemergency situations. Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.