Representatives of the Gabriela Women's Party on Wednesday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to fully implement the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law by going beyond its family planning component.
This they pointed out after the Food and Drug Administration recertified 51 contraceptives as being non-abortificient.
In a statement, Representatives Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas said that while the FDA's move is a welcome development, the battle for free and comprehensive healthcare is far from over.
“While the health department has moved for the full implementation of the RPRH Law, we reiterate that reproductive health is not merely confined to birth control," De Jesus said.
"We challenge DOH Secretary [Francisco] Duque to go beyond the family planning component of the law,” she added.
De Jesus stressed that is the right of every couple to decide how many children they want, and that family planning is a choice that cannot be enforced or dictated by anyone.
Meanwhile, Brosas said that even if the RPRH Law is fully implemented, it does not mean that healthcare services for Filipinos will automatically become comprehensive.
“Even if RPRH Law is in full swing, healthcare remains largely privatized or corporatized, and women still lack access to basic healthcare services in far-flung areas. Reproductive health is not just about the distribution of contraceptives,” she said.
Brosas said that with budget cuts for the health section for next year, accessible healthcare and maternal services may still be out of reach.
"We may have access to birth controls but with the lack public hospitals to cater to our less privileged sisters, RPRH Law will still be useless to them,” she said.
"To rub salt to the wound, policies against home-birthing persists in several municipalities, and women workers still have yet to achieve legislated additional maternity leaves,” she added.
De Jesus pointed out that in order for women's reproductive health rights to be realized, they should have free and comprehensive access to health services.
Following the recertification, the DOH team tasked to implement the RPRH Law has vowed to distribute and replenish their supply of contraceptives as soon as possible. — BM, GMA News