Kudos to high court for injuction vs RH law

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SUPREME Court’s extension of the temporary restraining order against Reproductive Health (RH) Law demanding the certification of particular contraceptives seemed like a “partial” answer to the greatest invocation of life advocates.

Last January, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman complained about the high court’s decision, melodramatically saying it “pierced the heart and soul” of Republic Act No.10354 or RH Law by making the certification, procurement, and access to contraceptives more difficult and cumbersome.

After more than a year of banning government purchase of Implanon and Implanon NXT — birth control implants that hamper women’s conception for three years and are asserted to possess certain abortifacient qualities — the scope of SC’s ruling broadened last August to a “re-certification” of some birth control pills of the like.

According to Lagman, this policy “derailed” the implementation of the RH Law since SC practically halted the certification process duly delegated upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As stated in Section 9 of the RH Law, “any product or supply included or to be included in the Essential Drug List must have a certification from the FDA that the said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient.”

Despite Lagman’s accusations, SC’s injunction is only necessary to ascertain RH Law’s responsible footing in the country even if it suspends the latter’s nationwide execution and seemingly jostle into FDA’s affairs.

As a matter of fact, the government should not rush its implementation since there are still pending issues to guarantee maternal health. Maternity is one of the most important scopes of health benefits that should be included in every health insurance plan offered to families and individuals.

While it is true that Section 12 of the RH Law speaks of “maximum benefits” to be given to those with “life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications, and menopausal and post-menopausal-related conditions,” ample time is needed for faultless actualization.

Aside from these, the injunction in itself serves as an opportunity to make couples aware of the kind and safety of drugs they are taking or about to take. Most especially, it seeks to inform the public of the side effects of contraception.

It is unfortunate, therefore, that President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 12 titled “Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning Through the Strict Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Providing Funds Therefore and for Other Purposes” in order to investigate the TRO and attempt to accelerate the implementation of the law by imparting the knowledge of modern family planning to the poor by 2018.

Ironically, however, pills are too expensive to be of utmost priority of the government at present. It will be a downright farce to burden the poor who are supposed to benefit from RH. Fundamentally, taxpayers are going to suffer. Moreover, the biases of the government to certain drug companies also add to public skepticism.

SC’s restraining order therefore, is not an act of dilly-dallying but a favorable moment for the government and the public to scrutinize between the pages of Reproductive Health Law’s most debated provisions.

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