Senator pushes for teenage pregnancy bill anew amid rise in pregnant teens

Senator pushes for teenage pregnancy bill anew amid rise in pregnant teens
PopCom yesterday launched the Philippine Challenge Initiative (PCI) in a bid to significantly reduce the growing number of young Filipino mothers. The population agency has partnered with the Zuellig Family Foundation in bringing the initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute that provides high impact family planning solutions to the poor.
AFP / John Moore

MANILA, Philippines — As early pregnancies rise amid the coronavirus pandemic, a lawmaker has filed a renewed measure pushing for teenage pregnancy prevention. 

Earlier, the Commission on Population and Development reported that births among girls aged 14 years and below jumped by 7% in 2019 compared with the previous year’s figure provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority. The commission also found that 130,000 babies from women younger than 20-years old were fathered by men who are 20 years of age or older.

In a statement, Sen. Risa Hontiveros disclosed that she authored Senate Bill No. 161 pushing for the social protection of young parents by ensuring they receive health care in all stages of pregnancy and are afforded counseling to prevent repeat pregnancies and to help them raise their child.

"The continued rise of early pregnancies is yet another challenge to the health and welfare of Filipino families in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis. This remains a frightening epidemic," she said.

"That the teen pregnancy crisis has continued for a decade and continues to spike today goes to show that the prevention of teen pregnancy cannot take a backseat, even as we battle COVID-19. It must be in the front row of the policies we need to discuss immediately to recover from the pandemic and to stem the worsening poverty," she added.

The PSA’s 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey also reported that 9% of 4.9 million teenage women aged 15-19 have begun childbearing years.

In early January, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate panel on basic education, also said that the rise in teenage pregnancies is getting in the way of administration efforts to improve the country’s performance in education, pointing to social media and dating apps' role in the spread of human immunodeficiency virus.

"How many of these young children were sexually abused? Right now, the data is still unclear. It's important for us to have laws that protect our women, especially our children who have no choice now but to take on the burden of motherhood," she said in mixed Filipino and English.

"Let us not allow the number of young Filipinos who are deprived of a bright future due to early pregnancy to keep rising. There will be consequences for the future of our nation if we do not seriously solve this epidemic of teen pregnancy," Hontiveros added.

— Franco Luna with a report from The STAR 




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