Statement

09 April 2014

Statement on the Philippines Supreme Court’s Decision on the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law

By UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, welcomes the decision by the Philippines Supreme Court to uphold the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354), which allows women, especially the poor and marginalized, access to reproductive health information and services, including family planning and sexuality education. This will enable couples and individuals to exercise their right to decide freely and responsibly whether, when and how often to have children and to live a healthy life with dignity.

Research around the world has shown that women who use family planning are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities, and more economically productive. Family planning gives women and adolescent girls the freedom to have fewer children, start their families later in life, complete their schooling and escape the poverty trap.

There is also indisputable evidence that when voluntary family planning is integrated into broader economic and social development initiatives, it can have a positive multiplier effect on human development and the well-being of individuals and nations.

The Philippines Supreme Court made this landmark decision in the same week as the United Nations Commission on Population and Development is reviewing progress in implementing the Programme of Action of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, which 179 governments, including that of the Philippines, adopted in 1994. The Programme of Action was groundbreaking because it placed individuals’ rights and dignity at the heart of development, affirmed sexual and reproductive health as a fundamental human right and recognized that empowerment of women and girls is key to ensuring the well-being of individuals, families, nations and our world. Equitable, universal access to reproductive health and family planning information and services is just as central to the human rights-based agenda of the Programme of Action today as it was 20 years ago.

We are also about a year away from the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Progress towards Goal 5, to improve maternal health, and towards the related target of achieving universal access to reproductive health, has lagged behind the other Goals. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law will accelerate the achievement of Goal 5 in the Philippines, and will empower millions to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health and contribute to inclusive development.

UNFPA congratulates all Filipino people who worked tirelessly for the passing of the law and urges the Government of the Philippines to fully implement it to ensure every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.