The Department of Health (DOH) and the Commission on Population (PopCom) has vowed to fully implement the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH, or RH) Law after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared that all the 51 contraceptive products in question are safe and do not cause abortion.
On November 10, the FDA finally released the list of medically-safe and non-abortifacient contraceptives. CNN Philippines reported that the resolution effectively lifts the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court. "The 51 contraceptive products the agency evaluated for months have passed the strict requirements of the technical review and reevaluation process" the FDA resolution reads. The products "have been determined to be non-abortifacient," and the agency is now in the process of recertifying them.
Included in the list are implants like Implanon and Implanon NXT; injectables like Protec, intrauterine devices Mirena and Securit-T; and pills or oral contraceptives like Estrelle, Daphne, Yasmin, and Nordette, among others. The DOH now has the go-signal to distribute the contraceptives, especially the implants which will expire in September 2018.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department is committed to fully implementing the RPRH Law and promote Filipino families' well-being by giving them access to family planning services. "We assure everyone that the full and strict implementation of the RH law will be fair, even-handed, and not adversely affect our people’s health," he told PhilStar.com.
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In 2015, the DOH was barred from distributing and procuring contraceptives after the Supreme Court issued a TRO in response to a petition filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (ALFI) which claimed that the implants specifically could cause abortions. In July 2017, the High court ruled that the TRO will only be lifted if the FDA certifies the contraceptives as non-abortifacients.
"This could not have come at a better time as depleted contraceptive supplies will now be augmented by over 200,000 implants. All Filipinos working for women’s health should rejoice at this development," said PopCom executive director Dr. Juan Perez III. Apart from distributing the contraceptives to women who need it, the FDA resolution also now allows the DOH to get new supplies of these contraceptives.
Reproductive health advocates, such as The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum) also welcomed the FDA resolution. “With a major barrier to our family planning program removed, we can now assure that every Filipino of reproductive age [is] provided with the whole range of quality family planning products and services that are effective, medically safe and non-abortifacient,” Benjamin de Leon, president of The Forum, told Inquirer.net.
Representatives of the Gabriela Women's Party also posed a new challenge to the DOH to implement the RPRH Law beyond its family planning component, GMA News Online reports. "We reiterate that reproductive health is not merely confined to birth control," Rep. Emmi De Jesus said. Rep. Arlene Brosas explained that basic healthcare should be made available to all women. "Policies against home-birthing persists in several municipalities, and women workers still have yet to achieve legislated additional maternity leaves,” she added.
Unsurprisingly, the church is not happy with the resolution. Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes expressed dismay over the FDA resolution and suggested that the Supreme court issue a permanent ban on contraceptives. "The Supreme Court should keep its temporary restraining order and make permanent the prohibition," he told Inquirer.net.