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The ballooning birth rate consequent to the lockdowns is also an indictment of the Duterte administration’s failure to adequately provide family planning services and access to contraceptives during the health emergency.

The Commission on Population (PopCom) projected that there will be 214,000 more newborn babies attributed to the lockdowns caused by the pandemic, which is over the 1.7 million expected this year.

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (R.A. No. 10354) mandates the State to guarantee universalaccess to “medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, (and) supplies”.

The RH Law also states that the “provision of ethical and medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable, non-abortifacient, effective and quality reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially those of women, the poor, and the marginalized, and shall be incorporated as a component of basic health care.”

These additional newborns will translate to millions of pesos which the government will have to spend for prenatal and post-partum health care services for mothers and their babies, as well as more appropriations for socio-economic services for the increase in the population.

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman is the principal author of the Reproductive Health Law.

Other countries where the provision of reproductive health services continues to be available even during the pandemic do not expect any similar spike in pregnancy and birth rates.

The boom on birth rates also underscores the following:

  1. The urgency for the Department of Education (DepEd) to fully start on the ground the implementation of the provision on age and development appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education to pupils and students in both public and private schools eight (8) years after the approval of the RH Law; and

  2. Enactment of laws preventing and solving adolescent pregnancy, and prohibiting child marriage wherein numerous bills on these concerns are pending in the House of Representatives.

The foregoing policies will prevent, among other salutary benefits, risky and unintended pregnancies among the young and maternal deaths which are disproportionately high among adolescent mothers.