The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that prevents the distribution of two types of contraceptive implants is expected to be lifted this month. The automatic lifting hinges on the Food and Drug Administration’s compliance to issue findings that Implanon and Implanon NXT, the two contraceptives in question, are not abortifacient.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the FDA is preparing this and she is confident the ban will finally be lifted paving the way for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health law without hindrance.

Two concerns shall immediately be addressed with the TRO lifting. First, some 400,000 implants that have been sitting in stockrooms since 2015 and are soon expiring can finally be distributed. Second, the FDA can again issue recertifications for the contraceptives so new stock can be procured.

Health officials and reproductive health advocates have been sounding the alarm over the near-expiring implants, which could have actually benefited women of childbearing age all over the country had its distribution not been prevented.

Other than depriving couples of options with which to plan their families, the TRO has also made many wary about using contraceptives at all, for fear of breaking the law.

The TRO, according to RH advocates, in effect trampled on women’s rights to have control over their bodies and their health. Women must be given the choice and have access to those options that will enable them to plan the number of children they want to raise.

In an April 26 decision by the High Tribunal, the FDA was directed to conduct “summary hearings” then show proof to the court that the implants were not abortifacient, as claimed by anti-RH advocates.

The FDA then proceeded to modify and revise its usual certification and recertification process to make it compliant with the High Court’s order, and has finalized the Rules of Procedure/Guidelines for the certification and recertification of all contraceptive products.

Once compliant, the TRO will automatically be lifted, without need for the SC to rule on the matter, Secretary Ubial clarified.

Relatedly, the Commission on Population also clarified a report that The High Court’s Second Division released an entry of judgment, which states the TRO on the purchase and distribution of Implanon and Implanon NXT will be permanent.

The commission, through a press statement, stressed that the “TRO of subdermal contraceptives recertification and ban on implants has not become permanent.”

Meanwhile, Secretary Ubial stressed her department is not endorsing an ‘ideal number’ of children but is encouraging couples to space pregnancies between three to five years.

Available contraceptives can still be accessed in Rural Health Units, partner hospitals, and non-government service providers. MIMS

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