PhilHealth Director Risa Hontiveros together with Akbayan Women and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) today distributed contraceptives such as Implanon, birth control pills, injectibles and condoms to women of Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City as part of a “family planning fair.”
The groups said they organized the activity as an “act of defiance” and to fill in the gap for reproductive health service delivery that was created by the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the government’s procurement and distribution of Implanon.
The Implanon is one of the contraceptive options that should be made available to families as mandated by the recently passed Reproductive Health Law.
“As a health and women’s rights advocate, I join the different women’s groups and families in standing up against those who want to undermine the RH Law and limit the options of the people in planning and managing their families. Whatever gaps the Supreme Court’s TRO has created in providing comprehensive reproductive health services, the different women’s organizations, civil society groups and social movements will fill in,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros, who is also a former partylist lawmaker and principal author of the RH Law in the 14th Congress, said the TRO is a step backwards in making healthcare universal in the country.
“The passage of the RH Law was seen by many as a step in the right direction in achieving universal healthcare. However, with the TRO, the government’s universality concept of healthcare is weakened as it limits the available choices the people can use in planning their families and providing themselves quality reproductive health services,” Hontiveros said.
The anti-RH law group, Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, asked for the TRO on Implanon arguing that it has alleged abortifacient features and did not pass the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Nothing is farther from the truth. Just like any other contraceptive being distributed as mandated by the RH Law, it passed the scrutiny of the FDA. These groups are merely raising old arguments that were already debunked during the deliberations of the RH law,” Hontiveros said.
“If they think their TRO serves the interest of the Filipino families, they are wrong. By giving the public less options to family planning methods, these groups once again subject our women to pregnancy-related health complications and their children to threats of malnutrition,” Hontiveros explained.
Hontiveros called on the Aquino government to appeal the TRO.
“Nananawagan ako sa pamahalaan na agad na i-apela ang TRO. Sa bawat araw na lumilipas na may TRO, buhay ng kababaihan at kabataan ang nasasakripisyo,” Hontiveros said.
She also called on the Supreme Court to lift the TRO.
“The high tribunal played an important role in the struggle for the advancement of reproductive health rights when it declared the RH Law constitutional. It again has the opportunity to relive that role. We look forward to the Supreme Court to immediately lift the TRO on the Implanon and provide Filipino families the widest array of options in planning their future,” Hontiveros ended.