The number of Filipino "women who die yearly due to childbirth and pregnancy complications has doubled in the last four years," and a reproductive health bill opposed by some lawmakers and stalled in Congress could address this rise in maternal mortality, health groups say, ABS-CBN News reports.
The bill includes a "range of programs to promote reproductive health through education and access" to family planning methods, according to ABS-CBN News.
Junice Melgar, executive director of the women’s health organization Likhaan, said that pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented by increasing access to family planning services, pre-natal check-ups, emergency obstetric care and skilled birth attendants. "Many of the unintended pregnancies lead to abortion. This places the life of a woman at risk," Melgar said, adding that half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned.
According to ABS-CBN News, "the bill met calls for shelving from lawmakers who claim that the bill legalizes abortion and that some of the artificial contraceptives cited in the bill are not safe."
Melgar noted that that maternal mortality correlates with infant deaths. "Women’s concerns are always tied to children’s concerns…When women are dying or sick, they cannot provide their children the warmth, the right nourishment, and the right protection," she said. Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning, said maternal and infant deaths occur because "Filipinos have very little access or no access to family planning services" (Balane, ABS-CBN News, 6/18).