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Thanks to FDA ruling, RH law survives another legal challenge

In an advisory dated November 10, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certified that the 51 contraceptive products that they have recently evaluated does not induce abortions, including the controversial Implanon and Implanon NXT.

FDA’s findings paves the way for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to distribute contraceptive products that the Department of Health (DOH) purchased from 2014. Distributing contraceptives to poor families is one of the key mandates of Republic Act 10354, also known as the reproductive health (RH) law.

It can be recalled that back in June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order or TRO against the government’s power to procure, distribute, and promote contraceptives. It also barred the FDA from issuing new certificates of registration for such products.

That was in response to complaints from groups opposing the RH law which claimed that the DOH and FDA are guilty of committing grave abuse of discretion and violating due process when they allegedly ignored their queries about the procurement process of contraceptives.

RH law contraceptives mandate

The SC’s injunction against the government’s purchasing and distribution of contraceptives has been effectively lifted (Photo credits: https://rmn.ph)

The President himself noted during his State of the Nation Address last July that as much as P360 million worth of DOH-procured contraceptives might go to waste if the SC fails to lift the TRO. For her part, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno pointed out that the TRO only covers Implanon and Implanon NXT.

“The TRO has a sunset provision, and as soon as the FDA certifies that they (Implanon and Implanon NXT) are not an abortifacient, the TRO is lifted,” she explained at that time.

For their part, the pro-RH advocacy group Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) welcomed FDA’s ruling on the 51 contraceptive products.  “The TRO effectively stalled the country’s family planning program. Nothing should get in the way of the full implementation of the law now,” PLCPD communication manager Aurora Quilala said, adding that this is a welcome development in time for the fifth anniversary of the RH law enactment next month.

And now that the FDA has conclusively ruled that the , PLCPD likewise called on the government to see through the implementation of other important provisions of the law, including comprehensive sexuality education for young people.

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