Press Release
August 24, 2019

As number of teen moms grows, Hontiveros bats for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill

"Para maiwasan ang pagdami ng mga batang ina, pang-unawa, edukasyon at tulong medikal ang kailangan, hindi ang pananakot o pangungutya."

This was the statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who today pushed for the passage of the 'teenage pregnancy prevention bill' to address the rise in adolescent birth rates around the country, which socio-economic planners have called a "national social emergency."

Hontiveros's call came after Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) alerted the public to the skyrocketing number of teenage pregnancies over the past decade, which he said is a "national concern." Pernia said that in three regions in Mindanao (Davao, Northern Mindanao, Socckscsargen) alone, as much as 15 to 18 percent of teenage girls living in those areas had already given birth to children.

For Hontiveros, who is author of Senate Bill No. 161 or the "Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2018," the solution to this health and social problem lies with legislation "that will deal with its main causes: lack of proper information of our youth and lack of access to relevant reproductive health services."

She explained that under her bill, the government would launch a comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education to better inform young Filipinos and parents alike about sex, gender, and reproductive health issues. The said education program would cover public and private school, universities and would be provided even to out-of-school youth.

The bill also mandates more social protection programs for teenage mothers, such as accessible maternal health services, workshops, and livelihood programs. Likewise, the bill also provides medical, legal and other services for teenage mothers who were victims of sexual abuse or violence.

Hontiveros said that government must quickly address the problem, if it wants to stem not only the health, social and cultural effects of teenage pregnancies, but also their economic implications. The NEDA earlier reported that due to early pregnancies, many teenage girls are deprived of their ability to achieve lifetime earnings which loss collectively may reach an estimated P24 to 42 billion.

"If we fail to act and do not guide the youth towards safe and healthy lifestyles, we will not just condemn young Filipinas to lives of poverty and suffering. We will also be hurting our country's chances for progress and development. Paano magiging pag-asa ng bayan ang kabataan kung sila ay maraming problemang pinapasan?," Hontiveros said.

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