Recently, the Philippine Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (or TRO) on the renewal of licenses and the distribution of almost all forms of contraceptives except for condoms. If the TRO is not lifted any time soon, that would mean that IUDs (intrauterine devices), birth control pills, injectibles, and more would soon be unavailable to Filipino women. Come 2018, the only form of contraceptives we will have left will be condoms.
The dialogue on reproductive health and contraceptives relates to so many local social issues. It affects poverty, population control, and health as well. And in order to properly address these issues, it all stems down to proper education.
If people were properly educated and given facts about the uses and effects of the different contraceptives made available to us, people would be smarter with the choices they make and responsible for not only their own lives, but the lives of others as well. With that, people shouldn’t see contraceptives as the enemy here, if anything they should see it as more of a solution to these problems.
In fact, I know many women who use birth control pills as more than a contraceptive. They use it to help deal with the effects of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), hormonal imbalance, dysmenorrhea, and even acne. There's also the case for teen pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, childbirth complications, and abortions—all preventable situations thanks to birth control.
Therefore, I don't see this TRO on contraceptives only as a health issue. It is also an issue about women’s rights, specifically our rights to our own reproductive health. With the TRO in place, these rights are not only compromised, they'll also be on their way to being lost.
I truly believe that the government, or any organization for that matter, should not have a say on what we choose to do with our own bodies. At the end of the day, someone else's religious beliefs, opinions, and lifestyle choices do not give them a free pass to violate our freedom, our bodies, and our future.
So, what should we Filipinas do about this? We must use what we already have: our minds and our voices. Let's stand together. Let's empower and educate each other to fight for women’s health and women’s rights.
Let's take our bodies back.
Sign the petition to lift the TRO for contraceptives here.