President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the government agencies to provide free contraceptives to the females in the country who cannot afford them. The move aims to reduce poverty in the country.
The program will cover about 6 million Filipino ladies, of which the identified 2 million poor women would get first access by 2018.
The goal is to make sure that contraceptives are easily available and there is “zero unmet need for family planning,” according to Ernesto Pernia, the Economic Planning Secretary.
Pernia, as quoted by Associated Press:
All women of reproductive ages should be able to achieve their desired family size, their desired number of children, rather than having more children than they want or they can afford and provide for adequately, and that is exactly the essence of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law.
He also stated this initiative is “pro-life, pro-women, pro-children, and pro-economic development.”
The contraceptive provision comes in after reports that claim 11 Filipinas die daily from pregnancy and delivery complications. Furthermore, the UN Population Fund survey had stated that the Philippines was the only country that had teen pregnancy rates rise during the last two decades in the Asia-Pacific region.
Hence, the bill hopes to reduce maternal deaths and teen pregnancies in the Philippines, especially amongst the poor.
This decision is likely to face criticism by Roman Catholic Church as contraception goes against their beliefs. Moreover, approximately 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic.
Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, has fought for many years to establish the RPRH law, to encourage the use of contraceptives in the country. The legislation was passed in 2012.
However, the Supreme Court of Philippines had placed a ban to halt the distribution of contraceptives in 2015 after appeals from anti-abortion groups,
The Philippines currently has the population of 104 million, with annual growth rate of 1.7%. If the new measure is fully implemented by 2022, the rate might reduce to 1.4%, according to the authorities.
The government is confident that this scheme will curb the poverty rate, from 21.6% in 2015 to 13-14% by 2022.
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