President Rodrigo Duterte is a strong supporter of family planning. Last January, he even signed an Executive Order calling for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. It gives us reason to hope that an appeal elevated to the Office of the President will be decided in favor of lifting the TRO.
What does this tell us?
It took the Supreme Court close to two years to clarify its position on its TRO and during that time, drug stores were running out of contraceptives. Women were given no other explanation other than their preferred birth control was out of stock.
Because the idea of not having contraceptives available in the 21st century is outright ridiculous and incomprehensible, many women thought that it was just the usual “out of stock” issue – inconvenient and annoying but certainly temporary.
It was only when government agencies, civil society and various media outlets ran story after story of how contraceptives are disappearing from our shelves and may soon not be available to any person living in the Philippines did we start to realize how dire the situation is.
People were rightfully incredulous and outraged.
We need to sustain that outraged and that indignation.
Pro-life groups will continue trying to limit the implementation of the RH law and the availability of birth control options.
And well, it is their right to do so.
However, our institutions like the Supreme Court, the Department of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration are guided by science, rule of law, and human rights.
They are compelled to uphold and protect our constitutional right to health and that includes access to all forms of birth control.
We citizens need to remind these institutions that we are watching and waiting. We will protect and safeguard our right to access sexual reproductive health services. We trust them to do the same and will hold them accountable if they do not.
Last Friday, the same day the Supreme Court was released, women’s groups rallied in front of the Supreme Court and presented signatures of more than 300,000 men and women calling for the Supreme Court to lift its TRO on contraceptives.
Let us continue making our voices heard. Sign the petition calling for the Supreme Court to lift the TRO.
The fight isn’t over yet. In many ways, what this debacle tells us is that, in many ways, it never will be. – Rappler.com
Ana P. Santos is Rappler’s sex and gender columnist and a Pulitzer Center grantee. In 2014, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting awarded her the Persephone Miel fellowship to do a series of reports on Filipino migrant mothers in Dubai and Paris.