Birth Control Shouldn’t Be Reduced to a Game of Politics

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At this point, it’s a numbers game. Out of the 48 product registrations for contraceptives in the Philippines, only 23 are left which means, in less than a year, making the supply increasingly limited until 2020. It doesn’t sound so desperate but stay with me for a while as the count will get worst.

According to independent journalist Anna P. Santos, speaking to WNYC, this means 13 million women will be affected. She also notes how there are “women who need it but can’t have access to it. That’s about six million.”

Unlike the imminent problems facing our country, the problem with birth control is a slow death. It’s seeing an oncoming train that’s about to hit you but doesn’t blow the horn. The urgency to get out of the way isn’t there yet, but when full impact hits, there are no second chances.

So it transforms into a politics game.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order for the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act. In an impressive move, the president supported a cause, that as mentioned by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, was a 14-year struggle.

But executive orders, sadly only get you so far. The temporary restraining order on the distributions and licensing of contraceptives is a move from the Supreme Court. Their rule cannot be overturned by the executive branch. And in an archaic move, the Supreme Court, a bastion for nonpartisanship and justice, favored the Church in their disapproval of birth control. Congressman Edcel Lagman stated it directly to Inquirer.net, “[T]he Supreme Court practically derailed the enforcement of the RH Law so much so that by 2018 contraceptive supplies are expected to dry up.”

Binibining Pilipinas International 2017 Mariel de Leon summed up the thoughts of most women about the issue as well.

Not only that, the Supreme Court’s ruling adds to the stigma towards birth control and hinders the understanding towards sex and family planning. “The TRO makes implants appear to be illegal, as if it is contraband,” Dr. Junice Melgar of Likhaan shared to New York-based website News Deeply.

And now we have the agonizing wait and protest. As we reported before, a petition to put pressure on the Supreme Court to #LiftTRO. But the waiting is already taking a strain. Are we really going to wait for the worst to come before we do something?

What is worse? Let’s go back to the numbers. Without birth control, our already overpopulation will balloon to dire levels. Women who are desperate to get the pill for various medical conditions, and not just strictly birth control, might have to resort to black market methods. It could spell disaster from counterfeit pills to tampered medications, increasing the chances of more complications for death. Women will also risk losing their lives to illegal abortions and pregnancy complications. POPCOM already reports of 5,000 plus Filipinas losing their life.

Compared to the other issues our country has faced, birth control seems to be forgotten. But time is running out. There’s no time for this staring match between the executive branch and the judiciary system. What we’re losing sight of is something we should have never lost focus on in the first place: women’s rights, the power of choice, and the welfare of the nation as a whole.

 

Art by Dorothy Guya

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