RH advocates lament SC decision extending TRO on implants
A group of Reproductive Health (RH) advocates has expressed disappointment over the decision of the Supreme Court to extend the temporary restraining order on contraceptive implants.
“We lament the decision of the Supreme Court to extend the TRO on implants. This decision sets back the full implementation of the RH Law despite the call of the President of the Republic for its full implementation when he delivered his very first State of the Nation Address” said Benjamin De Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development.
Issued in July 2015, the TRO prohibits the Department of Health from including contraceptive devices Implanon and Implanon TXT in its reproductive health programs.
The TRO, which stemmed from the petition filed by Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, covers pills, intrauterine device, condoms and other artificial methods of family planning.
On Tuesday, the SC denied the motion of the DOH to lift the TRO, and instead remanded the case to the Food and Drug Administration to check if the products have abortifacient side effects.
The Forum for Family Planning and Development expressed grief that their struggle to implement the RH Law is still met with so much barriers and challenges.
“We cannot emphasize enough the fact that it is our poor women and couples who are burdened by the effects of such barriers and opposition. Every day that this TRO is in effect, hundreds of women remain at risk from health issues that are otherwise easily preventable. When would be the right time lift the TRO? When more poor women are dead?” added De Leon in a statement.
He further emphasized the need to act fast and vigorously on family planning.
“It would have been better for the Filipino people had the Supreme Court lifted the TRO and remanded the issue to the FDA which has the responsibility in determining whether modern methods of contraception are abortifacient or otherwise, after observing due process,” said De Leon.
He added that empowering the country’s women to make more sensible life decisions will create a strong impact on the country’s social and economic development.
He stressed that besides pushing for the use of contraceptives, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law also calls for maternal health care and awareness.
The RH law stresses on education among the public, the women especially, on how to take care of themselves before and during pregnancy, he said.
The latest figures from the Family Health Surveys reveal that the number of Filipino women who have died due to pregnancy and child-birth related complications remain high at 221 deaths per 100,000 live births. This equates to 14-15 maternal deaths daily.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, meanwhile, believes that the Supreme Court decision not to lift the temporary restraining order on contraceptive implants is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Bad news is better than no news,” she said. “They have been silent about the TRO for more than a year, and we’ve been filing our petitions for the lifting in several instances with the help of the solicitor general.”
Ubial said DOH lawyers will study the decision so they would know the next steps to take.
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