Hey, Supreme Court! What the fuck?
I went to the drugstore about a week ago to pick up my usual monthly supply of birth control pills, only to be met with a tired, seemingly rehearsed response —“Out of stock na po, ma’am.” A wave of panic washes over me, because I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and my pills keep severe acne breakouts, nausea, and menstrual pain at bay. Apparently this is the boiling point of two years of tension between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Supreme Court (SC): in 2015, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was issued on implants because they were believed to induce abortion. In 2016, the Court expanded the TRO to include pills, vaginal rings, IUDs, and injectables. Drugstores everywhere are running low on supply, and women are hoarding like it’s the apocalypse for something that should be readily available to them. Again, I ask, what the fuck?
Here’s the thing, SC. Contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s not a matter of pro-life or pro-choice—scientifically, contraceptives keep our population down. Manila alone has twice the population density of New York City. There are 102 million of us already, and thanks to this TRO, that number is expected to balloon to 113 million by 2022. Are you ready to provide social and government services for an additional ELEVEN MILLION PEOPLE? By using contraceptives, we women are actually helping you do your job by lessening the number of Filipinos whose health and education you’d have to worry about. Do you really wanna give yourselves a harder time?
Oh, and if you think that the absence of contraceptives is going to bring abortion rates down, grow a beard, shave it off, and think again. Less (or no) contraceptives, more pregnancies. More pregnancies, increased likelihood of unsafe, unregulated abortions that endanger the life of both mother and child. Abortions aside, you end up with parents who aren’t ready for or don’t want a kid. You end up with kids who don’t get the upbringing they deserve. You end up with more mouths to feed. You end up expediting the socioeconomic deterioration of our country.
Now, you might be thinking: Well, we aren’t taking away condoms. People can still use those. You know that sound you hear on a game show when a contestant’s said the wrong answer? Imagine that sound right now. I hope that sound haunts you for the rest of your life. People don’t just need contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Women rely on birth control pills to regulate their periods, lessen symptoms of PCOS, and cure adult acne, among other reasons. Injectables help prevent cancer of the womb. Vaginal rings reduce the risk of fibroids and ovarian cysts. When you take away contraceptives, you don’t just fuck with people who fuck. You fuck with people who are trying to take care of their health. You fuck with people who are trying not to die. You fuck with the well-being of the people you were supposed to protect.
And that’s for Filipinas who are fortunate enough to know about contraceptives and (for now) have access to them. How about Filipinas in rural locations, where they barely have access to general health facilities, much less reproductive health facilities? There are women in Quirino province who still believe they shouldn’t do manual labor during their period because their uterus might literally slide out of their vaginas. What happens when you take contraceptives away from people whose understanding of their own bodies is already limited—for example, the 14-year-old girl who’s lived in a slum her entire life, stopped going to school after Grade 2, and didn’t know what to make of the white stuff that came out of her boyfriend’s penis?
The current administration relies, albeit questionably, on utilitarian ethics—that is, to kill one person to “save” the lives of many. Highly debatable as that may be, it’s the kind of thinking that’s powered today’s war on drugs. If you’re still listening, Supreme Court, why aren’t you applying the same theory to our women and children? If you want to save as many lives as possible, you ought to lift that TRO. And you wonder why we’re so angry? We’re fuming because you have systemically oppressed us from the very beginning. You pay us less than our male counterparts. You don’t take rape and sexual harassment as seriously as we’d want you to. At one point, you even tried to tax our makeup. Messing with our bodies— our health—is the last straw.
Abortion isn’t going to magically disappear; if anything, you’ve only caused them to spike. Premarital and unprotected sex is still going to happen; the least you can do is make sure people have what they need to protect themselves. People will still find ways to obtain birth control, only now, they’ll have to resort to illegal and unsafe methods to get it. And the sale of contraceptives, like any other commodity, boosts our economy, so why take that away?
So tell us, because we’re dying to know: Who benefits from this TRO?
Now get your grubby hands off our contraceptives and let us handle ourselves.
Women of the Philippines