MANILA, Philippines - Minors won't be given condoms, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), and other contraceptives even if the reproductive health (RH) bill is enacted into law.
Senate health and demography chair Pia Cayetano, a co-sponsor of the bill, made this assurance on Wednesday in response to questions from Sen. Ralph Recto during continuing debates on the measure.
Recto was concerned that a provision in the bill that grants "universal access" to reproductive healthcare services like contraceptives would include minors.
He also referred to a section mandating reproductive health education from ages 10 to 19.
"My parents never gave me contraceptives," he said. "Our parents taught us about sex education but definitely did not give us contraceptives."
Cayetano categorically said contraceptives won't be given to minors.
She explained, however, that some minors also get pregnant, and would need reproductive healthcare services.
"But as a general rule, I totally agree that hindi tayo mamimigay ng contraceptives sa minors," she said.
Cayetano clarified that reproductive health services are not limited to contraceptives.
'Not a contraceptive ice cream truck'
The debate got heated when Recto insisted that the government should not spend billions for enacting a law that will distribute contraceptives, and said that mobile health care service units that the bill provides for will be used to do so.
"It is not a contraceptive ice cream truck!" Cayetano said, explaining that the vehicles will be like clinics delivering various reproductive healthcare services.
"And I am offended actually that we continue to try to create that impression," she added. "Every time that reproductive health care comes up, the next word is, 'Nagtutulak tayo ng contraceptives.'"
Cayetano reiterated that the bill will only give women services that will help them plan their families.