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Plan Philippines calls on government to pass reproductive health bill

Lack of access to information is stunting progress.

16 May 2012: After a recent report showing the number of teen pregnancies in the Philippines has risen 70% in the past decade, Plan Philippines has called for the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.

Plan’s call comes in the wake of a recent report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that says the Philippines now ranks first among ASEAN’s 6 major economies in teenage pregnancies with a rate of 53 in every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. Plan and the National Youth Commission* have expressed alarm at this report, prompting the 2 organisations to intensify their appeal to legislators to pass the Bill.

“As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Philippine government has an obligation to provide the means for the fulfilment of the rights of the child. This includes giving age-appropriate sexuality and reproductive health education,” said Carin van der Hor, Plan’s country director in the Philippines.

Clued up

Plan maintains that the Reproductive Health Bill protects young people from the adverse effects of lack of information or misinformation about reproductive processes and sexuality by training their teachers and parents on age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education.

“We would like to see that not only knowledge will be made available to young people, but reproductive health services as well. The right to health includes reproductive health,” she said.

Van der Hor further cautioned against the delay in the bill’s enactment.

“By prolonging the debate and delaying the passage of the bill, there are many Filipino mothers and newborns who die everyday due to pregnancy-related complications. These complications are mostly due to unplanned pregnancies that often result in forced abortion, pregnancies occurring at an early age or old age, and pregnancies that are too closely spaced and put the health of the mother and child at risk.”

Plan thus urges the legislators to support and champion the rights of children and mothers by enacting the Reproductive Health Bill.

“Its immediate passage can save precious lives,” van der Hor underscored.

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