/ 7 September 2023

THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a measure that aims to prevent teenage pregnancies and protect young mothers.

With a vote of 232 with no one opposing or abstaining, the lawmakers approved House Bill 8910 that seeks to address early pregnancy and mothering, which has adverse effects on both the mother and the baby.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez 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 Covid19 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,” Romualdez 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.

To show the gravity of the problem, Rep. Edcel 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 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states.

He said the Fund documented that more than 500 Filipino adolescent girls get pregnant and give birth everyday, 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 bill establishes the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Inter-Agency Council, composed of the Population Commission executive director as chairperson with the executive director of the Council for the Welfare of Children as co-chairperson.