Health experts in the Philippines today blamed Church leaders for the growing number of Filipino youth engaging in premarital sex and increasing rates of teenage pregnancy.
Dr. Esperanza Cabral, convenor of the reproductive health advocates group Purple Ribbon, said that the inability of the group to drive progress on adolescent sexuality and reproductive health was “mainly because of the objection of the bishops” to contraception.
Many Catholics have filed petitions against the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, which would provide funding for contraception and sex education.
Cabral, who until 2010 had headed the Department of Health, said the effect of the delay in the implementation of the law has been felt on the ground already.
The latest data from the National Statistics Office show that in 2010 alone, 570 girls below 19 years old give birth every day. The data shows that poor teenage girls are five times more likely to have begun motherhood than wealthy ones.
At least 10 percent of registered maternal deaths in 2010 were teenagers, up from six percent in 2000. Maternal deaths among those aged 15 to 19 also rose from 96 to 164 from 2000 to 2010. Teenage pregnancy in the Philippines has increased by 70 percent within 10 years since 1999, the UN Population Fund said last year.
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