Unless you haven’t heard, The Supreme Court has issued a TRO (temporary restraining order) on contraceptives in 2015. At first, they were only covering Implanon and other implants. It was later expanded to cover pills, injectables, intrauterine devices, vaginal rings, and other brands. Slowly but surely, oral contraceptives have been disappearing off the shelves of drug stores and health centres, including my brand, with the great possibility of them disappearing forever in about three years.
If The Supreme Court has it’s way, we Filipinos will only be left with two options: condoms and “Family Planning”. For my readers abroad or anyone who simply doesn’t know, “Family Planning” basically means ABSTINENCE. Yes, they are basically asking us to abstain from sex, which by the way is one our basic human needs. Because fuck science, right?
Personally, I am outraged. I am outraged because The Supreme Court refuses to look at the country’s real problems, like overpopulation and immense poverty. They are so focused on turning a blind eye on the real issues only because [Insert Bible verse here]. We are sorry (no, we’re really not), but that will never be a good enough excuse. Wake up, guys! What year is it? People are definitely having sex and birth control is ABSOLUTELY NOT only about having sex. Oh my god, what a shocker. Let me give you 15 Filipinas On Why They Need Birth Control, The Contraceptive Ban And Why It’s Stupid.
First thing’s first:
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“I am currently using trust pills. It’s cheap as hell, does the job, and it’s the only one I have tried so far that doesn’t make me feel awful side effects like headaches and nausea. My partner and I were alarmed by this TRO on contraceptives as we’re both not ready to have kids yet and let’s be real, we’re both consenting adults in a committed relationship. We’re having sex responsibly. I take the pill for my peace of mind. I like having the choice of deciding when to have kids. We’ve decided to hoard on pills and hope this TRO will be lifted soon enough.”
“I am absolutely furious. This will directly affect my health as I do take Yasmin for a number of things. One, to balance my hormones, because I suffer from hormonal imbalance, which affects my skin, my mood, my hair, my appetite, and much more. Two, I use it to avoid unwanted pregnancy, because I cannot afford more than one child. I feel very violated that a bunch of lawmakers could even think of interfering with women’s health rights. My next move would probably be to buy contraceptives abroad. I will definitely not allow these idiots to control my body.”
“I use Diane birth control pills, and I take it because my ob-gyn diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Apparently, it’s like an epidemic now, and many young women have it, as it’s linked to stress, which I really am. That’s my main reason for using it, because without it, I get really crazy hormone imbalance, crazy weight gain/loss, and I skip my periods months at a time, but sometimes bleed for months at a time. I don’t really use it for actual contraception uses but, sure, why not? [If] bringing BC in from abroad [becomes] illegal, I have no idea how I’m going to survive.”
“In transition from male to female, you are to take two medications, estrogen and anti-androgen. Estrogen pills are very difficult to find so we substitute it with birth control pills, which has estrogen content in it. Anti androgen is by prescription but unfortunately gender doctors are not available in the country due to laws. Contraceptives are the only alternative for us to transition until we are able to finance ourselves to buy our medications abroad, which is quite expensive. Banning contraceptives here in the Philippines is taking away the freedom of us transgender being able to transition and express who we are. Not only that, it is taking away freedom of women the choice of what happens in her body. The only way for me to be able to transition is if I move to other countries to continue my medication. Transgender people will no longer be able to transition of contraception is not allowed in the Philippines.”
**As a former fashion student that has been in fashion school for more than three years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of having such a wide array of people with different genders and sexualities around me, including transgender women. The talk of birth control and injections for their transition was a normal, everyday conversation for us. I really can’t explain why it took me a couple of days to even realize that they too will be greatly affected by the TRO. Now, it comforts me to know that we have more beautiful souls to fight for the right to our own bodies.
“Pills have changed my life. For almost a year, I’ve been in and out of the hospital (monthly) because of my ovarian cysts. Antibiotics and other medication have been given to me but they would just cure the cysts for a certain amount of time, then the cysts would still come back. But when I decided to ask for a third opinion from my third OB, she asked me to take Dianne pills for 3 months. I tried it and goodbye cysts for almost a year now.”
“For years, I have always been irregular with my menstrual cycle. After getting checked, my doctor told me I have PCOS and that I needed to take birth control pills. It took me three different brands (roughly six months) to finally find the pill with barely any side effects. Finding out about the TRO made me sick to my gut. Most pro-life groups argue that there are “natural” ways to treat PCOS, and trust me, I’ve tried doing that already. I was on metformin, and I changed my lifestyle. However, nothing made me feel more in control, less anxious and less worrisome than the pill I’m taking now. I think working with the government to lift this TRO is the first step. I know that they agreed for a public hearing, so all efforts must be geared towards that. My last move is to talk to my doctors for alternatives because I’m hopeful that we can do something about it!”
“Ayy, that’s basically preventing Filipina transgender women, like myself, from their transition. We, the transgender community, don’t even get any support from the government to begin with and now they even dare to take away our pills! Worst comes to worst, I’m just going to order hormones from Thailand.”
“As a student nurse, I would go and visit communities and talk to pregnant women, mothers, and families. I was distraught by their lack of knowledge with sex and reproductive health. To have a community of people, men and women who are not used to using condoms and did not undergo proper sex education. What happens to women if you take away the only contraceptive they are using or the only contraceptive that works for them? As a woman, I should have rights that protect myself from the closed minded sectors of this country like the government, religious groups, and the church. Although I have respect for the religious communities and the church, they must understand that not everyone has the same belief system and values as them and the way I live my life should be my choice. I am using birth control pills and my reason for using the pills is that I have a boyfriend, we are sexually active and I do not want to get pregnant. [If it gets banned permanently,] one option would be to get an injection in another country when I travel but also my boyfriend would always use a condom.”
**Just to get a clear picture on how bad it really is here in the Philippines, the same student nurse told me about the one time when she and her co-students were demonstrating how to properly use a condom to a local community. To demonstrate this, they used their thumb as the penis and used the condom accordingly. A few weeks later, they got a complain from a couple in the said community. They were upset that they have been using the condoms just to find out that the girlfriend was pregnant. The nurses later found out that they have been using condoms, except they were using them on their thumbs.
“I’ve been on oral contraceptives for the past 6 years, and every time I had to take a short break from them, all the symptoms that came with my PCOS (month long periods, irregular cycles, extremely painful cramps, acne, mood swings, insecurity, etc.) would start up again. As a Filipina, who is very dependent on birth control, to hear that there is a TRO on contraceptives is absolutely horrifying. It shouldn’t matter if a woman uses BC because she wants to have safe sex, or if someone like me needs to take BC to regulate her period and be able to do the simplest things and not have deal with the inconvenience and pain of irregular periods. 1 out of 5 women in the world have PCOS, and each one differs in symptoms, so I can only imagine how many women have worse symptoms than mine and really do need the pills just to be able to do regular things.”
“Since we, my boyfriend and I, do not use condoms, I drink contraceptive pills as an alternative. We do not like using condoms because we feel less every time we do. I actually do not know [what I’m going to do about it]. Abstain, maybe? Or take extra precautions when it comes to having sex. It’s going to be hard though. This is why I believe that the TRO is unnecessary. It’s like taking hope away from people. We just want to be sexually free, you know?”