The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum) is challenging the recommendation of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to stop the procurement of progestin sub-dermal implants (PSIs) after citing research that he said contradicts the ruling of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that these are non-abortifacient.
Benjamin de Leon, president of The Forum, the frontline advocacy organization that works on the ground to educate communities on reproductive health and rights, said removing any family planning method in the line-up of options for women is contrary to the FDA ruling that the implants are safe and non-abortifacient, which prompted the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the methods.
“The Supreme Court has decided. The FDA has spoken. The stance of Senate President Sotto is contrary to both these decisions,” de Leon said. “What is at stake here is the interest of women who want to space their pregnancies so that they and theirn children and families are healthy. We must not fail them.”
De Leon emphasized that the Department of Health has attested to the non-abortifaciency of PSIs in the past. “The implants’ efficacy is for three years. Women who prefer this method will have protection for three years,” he said. An implant in inserted in a woman’s upper arm.
De Leon said that when the government placed a TRO on the implant brands Implanon and Implanon NXT in 2015 for allegedly causing abortions, among 51 other contraceptive methods, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, which was enacted in 2012, remained unimplemented.
He echoed the worry of the Commission on Population which, at that time, projected that there may have been 500,000 unintended pregnancies and at least 1,000 maternal deaths during the period that there was a TRO. He added that the more alarming problem was the unabated rise of early pregnancies among teenage girls.
“Although these numbers have yet to be quantified, we are now battling all odds to reach out to the women who preferred the implants and who may have missed the opportunity to plan their families, and to immediately provide these methods to them,” he said.
De Leon also said that without the wide variety of family planning options that include the implants, women would not know what is best for them with their limited options. “Denying them a highly effective method is also denying our country, especially households in poor communities, a chance to develop.” he said.
*Banner photo from: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/health-test-isolated-269712323