PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed an order providing access to family planning methods despite a Supreme Court order prohibiting the government’s procurement and distribution of some family planning aids, an official said Wednesday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia slammed the high court for delaying its decision to lift the temporary restraining order on sub-dermal implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to three years.
He said Duterte signed Executive Order No. 12 after it was finalized by the Health Department and other agencies on Jan. 9.
“All women of reproductive age should be able to achieve their desired family size, their desired number of children rather than having more children than they can provide for adequately,” Pernia said.
“That is exactly the essence of the... Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.”
EO No. 12 aims to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning for all poor households by 2018, and all of Filipinos” within the context of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, Pernia said.
In his first State-of-the-Nation Address, Duterte called for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law that mandates all accredited public health facilities to provide a full range of modern family planning methods.
The Supreme Court delayed the implementation of the law in March 2013 following opposition from pro-life groups. However, it ruled in April 2014 that the law was “not unconstitutional.”
Pernia said the EO would ensure that local governments could not circumvent the implementation of the RH Law, but the Supreme Court was taking too long to decide in the case of some contraceptives.
“I don’t know why the Supreme Court cannot act more swiftly. A simple matter and it has already been declared not unconstitutional, and yet you listen to this small minority, small noisy minority.”
Pernia said if the high court would not lift its temporary restraining order on implants soon, only family planning methods would be left in the market by 2018.
He said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial filed a motion for reconsideration in October to affirm the recertification of all modern birth control methods.
And with the new EO, the contraceptives prevalence rate was expected to rise to around 65 percent from 40 percent.
Pernia said the drive to provide women with responsible parenthood options would help the country reach its growth and economic targets.
“If two unwanted births per woman are taken away, are averted, then naturally poverty will go down,” he said.
“Because, you know, the poverty incidence is just the number of poor households or poor population.”
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