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TRO on contraceptives could encourage abortion, increase maternal death, overpopulation - POPCOM


Affordable contraceptives that include pills and implants for women may soon be off the shelves if the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on family planning methods remains in effect.

The TRO has been in effect since June 2015. As a result, many contraceptives have already lost licenses to be sold.

Population Commission (POPCOM) Executive Director Dr. Juan Perez III is concerned that if this continues, population would climb to unmanageable proportions, as contraceptive availability becomes very limited and practically inaccessible to both government and private markets.

“If the TRO continues, this will lead to an additional rise to population by 2022. Instead of the projected 110 million increase, there will be 113 million,” Dr. Perez said.

Part of the mandate of the controversial Reproductive Health Law is to ensure the free distribution of safe contraceptives to the public. However, this move by the Supreme Court has hampered the full implementation of the law, reasons claiming that some of the contraceptives may cause abortion and other health consequences.

In addition to the overpopulation, many women will suffer or worse, die due to the repercussions of the TRO. “Every year while the TRO is in place, 1,000 women are in danger of losing their lives. They may die due to bleeding, preeclampsia, etcetera.”

Another outcome could be the increased incidence of abortion. “When women have limited choices, when family planning becomes less available, abortion may be the only option for unwanted pregnancies.”

“This is an impending emergency. We would like to ask the Supreme Court to immediately lift the TRO,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Perez said that 500,000 contraceptive implants purchased by the Department of Health (DOH) which were to be distributed to the public are now nearing their expiry dates in 2018. “If the TRO is not lifted, they will go to waste in the warehouses.”

“This Supreme Court action is a threat to women enjoying their full rights particularly sexual and reproductive health rights. The law has guaranteed women these rights, but it is a promise that is not being fulfilled despite the best intentions of government and civil society,” he added.

In the meantime, the POPCOM has engaged civil society for a 1-million signature campaign in the hope of convincing the Supreme Court to lift the order. Normally, the Supreme Court does not allow itself to be lobbied by such campaigns. But the POPCOM has submitted scientific studies on the safety of the contraceptives. “We have submitted it to the solicitor general for a motion,” Dr. Perez shared.

“So far we now have 140 thousand signatures. We will continue the campaign until we reach 1 million in the next few months. We are hoping that the Supreme Court will act quicker, since we all know they will not wait for a public health emergency to happen, causing more maternal deaths,” he said.

“Many contraceptives have been around for years. There has never been any complaint from the public, never declared harmful to the health of women and men. Their contentions do not have evidence. These are probably over-reactions to the law itself,” Dr. Perez added. (ALT/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)

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