DOH confident SC will lift TRO on Implanon

MANILA --The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said that it is keeping a positive view that the Supreme Court will soon come out with a favorable decision that upholds respect to women's right of choice and in planning their size desired family.

In a Forum titled Legal Barriers to Family Planning: Putting Women's Lives at Risk held at Manila Peninsula Hotel, DOH Spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag said that while there were some existing fears regarding the delay on the lifting of Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by SC against implanon, the DOH still believed that SC would arrive at a wise decision afterwards.

We have a single idea that we're doing this for our country. It's not about who is right who is wrong. It's not also about whether the SC will give a wise decision because we know they will and that our rights will be respected, Dr. Tayag explained.

Tayag added that they were feeling positive because based on their observation in the past, the SC always made a reliable judgment on matters concerning the upholding of the rights of women in this country.

He said the DOH had presented already its arguments in defense of its appeal for lifting of TRO and it knew that the High Court would scrutinize them very well.

'The RH Law respects this right and that it is about choice, and this will eventually contribute to the progress of this country. Having said that, the DOH implores the SC to do the right thing, and we are very confident that the SC will see through this RH law that it is the best for our country. We are confident that SC will make a decision that will respect the rights of Filipino women, he said.

The TRO also covers restraining of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for granting any and all pending applications for registrations and or recertification of reproductive products, including contraceptives drugs and devices.

In the same forum, he also acknowledged President Rodrigo R. Duterte's support to the RPRH Law by signing an Executive Order Number 12 to achieve zero unmet for family planning services in the local government units as sign of his genuine intention for full implementation of RPRH Law, which he uttered in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered last year .

At present, the DOH had placed its contraceptives, except the implants in the health centers of the local government units wherein they can be accessed by women who needed them.

Meanwhile, in the same forum, some non-governmental organizations supporting the family planning program of the government called for the favorable result of lifting the TRO from the high court by citing that it denied women access to choose the method that best suits their needs and preferences.

Amina Evangelista Swanepoel, executive director of Roots of Health (an NGO) shared their experiences on bringing family planning services to far flung areas in the country where women were so starved of medical attention during their out-reach programs.

Swanepoel shared that a year ago, in Balabac, Southernmost part of Palawan, there was a 17-year-old woman there with 3 kids wherein the youngest one was one-year-old who approached them and said she wanted to have an implant to prevent further pregnancies.

Because she wasn't using any form of contraception at the time our standard operating procedure is to give her a pregnancy test to make sure that she is not pregnant before giving the implant. Unfortunately, the pregnancy test was positive so she was pregnant to the 4th time in her young life. So all we could do for her that time is to give her vitamins and give her pre natal check up, she said.

She added that another patient that marked also to their mind was a 30�year-old woman who then already have 11 children and decided to had an implants.

Everyday, I think about that 17-year-old (woman) because we weren't able to go back to that area. If she wasn't able to get services she will be under way to become another 30 yr old with eleven children. And this is why it is so important that women in the Philippines have the full access to the full range of contraceptives methods that are available, she said.

She then called on the Supreme to therefore stop from trampling on women's rights.

We cannot have all those things when women cannot control their bodies. So I called on SC to stop on playing political games with women's health to lift the TRO, she said.

The forum was also attended by former DOH Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral; Benjamin de Leon, president Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc.; Dr. Juan Antonio Perez, executive director of Population Commission; and Elizabeth Schlachter, executive director of FP2020.

They all echoed the voice of Filipino women appeal to have the TRO be lifted because legal barriers can place lives of women and children at risk.

Source: Philippines News Agency