House approves bill aiming to prevent teenage pregnancies

THE House of Representatives approved today on third and final reading by a vote of 232 with no negative vote and no abstentions a bill that aims to prevent teenage pregnancies and protect young mothers.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said House Bill (HB) No. 8910 seeks to address the social problem of early pregnancy and mothering, which has adverse effects on both the mother and the baby, and on society in general.

He said based on surveys, the problem worsened during the pandemic when the government advised people, including the youth, to stay home to stave off the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus.

“The social cost of this issue and the negative impact on the national budget could run into billions – in terms of the government having to take care of young mothers and their babies. There is also the human development aspect,” Speaker Romualdez, leader of the 311-strong House of Representatives, said.

He added that the state has to prepare the youth for a healthy adolescent and adult life and responsible parenthood by instilling in them the appropriate moral and sexual values.

Reps. Edcel C. Lagman, Juan Fidel Felipe F. Nograles, Charisse Anne C. Hernandez, Stephen James T. Tan, Patrick Michael D. Vargas, Francisco Paolo P. Ortega V, Raoul Danniel A. Manuel, Juan Carlos “Arjo” C. Atayde, Rex Gatchalian, Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, Faustino Michael Carlos T. Dy III, Kristine Alexis B. Tutor, JC Abalos, Keith Micah “Atty. Mike” D.L. Tan, Christopherson “Coco” Yap, Reynolds Michael T. Tan, Ivan Howard Guintu, Angelo Marcos Barba, Jane T. Castro, Margarita “Atty. Migs” B. Nograles, Eric R. OLY Buhain, Jeyzel Victoria C. Yu, Jernie Jett V. Nisay, Romulo “Kid” Peña JR, Christian S. Unabia, Irwin C. Tieng, Mary Mitzi L. Cajayon-Uy, Dante S. Garcia, Bai Dimple I. Mastura, Peter B. Miguel, Joseph S. Tan, Emigdio P. Tanjuatco III Antonio B. Legarda Jr., Jose “Joboy” S. Aquino II, Julienne “Jam” Baronda, Arnie B. Fuentebella, Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano, Bryan B. Revilla, Jude A. Acidre, Arlene D. Brosas, Arthur F. Celeste, Joseph Gilbert F. Violago, Noel “Bong” N. Rivera, and Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe are the principal authors of the bill.

To show the gravity of the problem, Lagman, a staunch reproductive health and women’s rights advocate, said the United Nations Population Fund reported in 2020 that the Philippines had “one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member-states.”

He said the Fund documented that “more than 500 Filipino adolescent girls are getting pregnant and giving birth every day,” or in excess of 182,500 births yearly.

He estimated that the cost of early pregnancies to the economy is about P33 billion a year.

The consolidated bill is entitled, “An Act providing for a national policy in preventing adolescent pregnancies and institutionalizing social protection for adolescent parents.”

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