The Supreme Court (SC) has effectively killed the Reproductive Health Law by preventing the government purchase of certain contraceptives, one of the principal authors of the measure said on Friday.
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, who defended the RH bill in protracted plenary debates during the 15th Congress that lasted almost a year, was reacting to a statement of SC spokesman Theodore Te that the High Court did not get in the way of the RH Law implementation.
“Te was splitting hairs when he reiterated that the High Court did not derail the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. While there is no direct injunction against the implementation of the RH Law, the Supreme Court has pierced the heart and soul of the RH Law by making the certification, procurement and access to contraceptives more difficult and cumbersome,” Lagman, a lawyer, pointed out in a statement.
After the SC issued a temporary restraining order on government purchase of Implanon and Implanon NXT in June 2015, according to him, the High Court even expanded the scope of the TRO in August 2016 by requiring the certification and re-certification of all contraceptives to be used under the RH Law, including those that have been traditionally certified for decades as safe and non-abortifacient.
Implanon and Implanon NXT are long-lasting, reversible hormonal contraceptive implants that would prevent pregnancy for up to three years.
“These are the implants of choice of women practicing family planning, and central to the RH Law is the informed choice accorded to women of reproductive age to determine the number and spacing of their children by voluntarily using modern, effective and safe contraceptives as a method of family planning,” Lagman said.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued an Executive Order (EO) this week to go around the Supreme Court TRO.
The EO, effective immediately, seeks to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning for all poor households by 2018.”
“When the Supreme Court halted the certification and re-certification by the Food and Drug Administration of contraceptive products and devices pending FDA’s compliance with its directive to adopt a more protracted quasi-judicial process instead of the regular and usual summary administrative process purportedly to observe due process, the Supreme Court practically derailed the enforcement of the RH Law so much so that by 2018 contraceptive supplies are expected to dry up,” Lagman said.
Under Section 9 of the RH Law, the FDA is the primary authority that will determine which hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and family planning products and supplies are safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective.
“All that is required pursuant to Section 9 is a “certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient. The findings of administrative agencies like the FDA are accorded highest respect and adherence by superior courts because of the former’s acknowledged expertise,” Lagman said.