Pass teen pregnancy prevention bill now, PH government urged

Pass teen pregnancy prevention bill now, PH government urged

/ 06:06 PM July 11, 2024

Pass teen pregnancy prevention bill now, PH government urged

Teen pregnancies are on the rise, so international and local population and development advocates are calling on the Philippine government to immediately pass the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill to curb young female pregnancies. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Population and development advocates called for the urgent passage of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill to curb rising teenage pregnancies.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Commission on Population and Development (CPD), and Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) made their appeal on World Population Day 2024, emphasizing that the proposed measure would empower social justice and provide comprehensive action to address adolescent pregnancy in the country.

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In September 2023, the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) No. 8910, or the  Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill on the third and final reading. Under the bill, an Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Inter-Agency Council will be organized to serve as the “policy-making body responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that shall provide family-oriented, adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health programs.”

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But a counterpart legislation at the Senate remains pending.

READ: Popcom ‘deeply concerned’ about rise in teen pregnancies

“It is important to recognize that as we want to protect children and adolescents, they have the right to have access to age- and development-appropriate information and services, including family planning,” said PLCPD Executive Director Romeo Dongeto.

“In our minds as advocates of children’s rights, women’s rights, and reproductive health: there are no contradictions in this. Still, only the coexistence of the rights to be protected and to have access to information and services,” he also said.

The CPD said in a statement that pregnancies among young girls aged 10 to 19 increased 10.2 percent. Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the CPD said live births by young mothers rose from 136,302 in 2021 to 150,138 in 2022.

“Beyond numbers, these pregnancies are manifestations of social injustice, where helpless girls are deprived of opportunities to achieve their aspirations because of their lifelong and irreversible consequences.  It reflects a societal failure to promote and enable them to fully exercise their rights as children and human beings,” CPD Executive Director Lisa Grace Bersales pointed out during a press conference on Thursday.

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READ: HIV cases among Filipinos continue to rise, says DOH

Meanwhile, UNFPA Philippines Country Representative Dr. Leila Saiji Joudane noted that young people face more health concerns and social issues today, even mentioning the rise of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases, gender-based violence, and child marriage.

“The passage of this bill is a crucial step towards empowering young people and ensuring their right to sexual and reproductive health,” she said.

The Department of Health reported that in March alone, HIV infections rose by 1,224 and that 31 percent of this were people aged 15 to 24.

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“We can no longer delay this measure. Let us not allow the effort and discussions started in the previous Congresses and in the early 19th Congress to go to waste. We call upon the Senators to act on this bill with urgency,” said PLCPD’s Dongeto.

TAGS: pregnancy, World Population Day

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