APF Community Contact us
News : Good practice

CHR launches national inquiry report on reproductive health rights

Graphic: Mother and daughter, Philippines

The Commission found uneven implementation of national reproductive health legislation, as well as policies that negatively impact on women.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines recently concluded its national inquiry into the barriers that some women face when accessing reproductive health services and a full range of family planning methods.

The national inquiry also examined the existence of local government ordinances that contradict the general principles of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law and international human rights conventions.

For example, in February 2015, Sorsogon City's mayor signed a pro-life Executive Order which resulted in the withdrawal of contraceptives from local health centres.

Women's access to contraceptives is also being challenged by some groups before the courts.

In addition, the inquiry considered the requirement of spousal and parental consents in some provisions of the RPRH Law and how this can limit the access of women and young people to reproductive health services.

Women’s issues are urgent concerns of the nation. If the status of women does not progress, how might we expect our country to progress?

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines Logo Jose Luis Martin "Chito" Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

The inquiry commenced on 1 March 2016, with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund.

Fifteen regional consultations were held across all of the CHR's regional offices, hearing from a wide range of groups, including persons with disabilities, LGBTQI (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer and intersex) people and indigenous people.

In addition, the fact finding and public hearings component of the national inquiry covered five regions, including 13 cities/municipalities and 23 barangays. A total of 29 government health offices/facilities were visited and 89 statements under oath were given.

Around 80 individual submissions were provided to the CHR, along with seven submissions from women's organisations.

The national inquiry documented uneven implementation and support for the RPRH law, primarily due to decentralisation and the autonomy of local government which has largely fragmented the delivery of health services.

The CHR also found policies and practices that negatively impact women, especially the most marginalised.

For example, the CHR is concerned that local government ordinances that criminalize and penalize home births impact disproportionately on women in geographically isolated areas and indigenous women seeking to exercise their cultural rights.

Moreover, the criminalisation of abortion remains in place and, despite provisions for post-abortion care (PAC), the stigma of abortion affects the availability and adequacy of post-abortion care in health facilities.

Date: 11 July 2016

Inquiry hearing at CHR office

Read more on the findings and recommendations of the CHR's national inquiry on reproductive health rights

Image credits

  1. Mother and daughter, Philippines - Din Jiminez, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1SnV6Y0
  2. Inquiry hearing at CHR office - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines