The number of live births among mothers below the age of 15 surged by 35 percent in 2022, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD, formerly POPCOM) said.
In a statement released on Monday, the CPD said findings by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed a “considerable increase” in the number of live births from pregnancies among girls aged 14 and below: from 2,320 in 2021 to 3,135 in 2022.
While the increase in the total number of live births by adolescent mothers (aged 19 and below) rose 10.15%—from 136,302 in 2021 to 150,138 in 2022—the increase for under-15 mothers was 35.13%.
“Although live births from adolescent girls, 14 years old and below, is just 0.22% of total live births recorded, CPD is still deeply concerned about the increase in adolescent pregnancy, especially among our very young girls,” Executive Director Lisa Grace Bersales was quoted as saying in the statement.
Bersales urged the passage of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Act, which provides for a national policy to prevent adolescent pregnancies and institutionalize social protection for adolescent parents. It was unanimously approved in the House of Representatives last September.
Among other provisions, the bill states that reproductive health and birth control services must be available with no need for consent from parents or legal guardians to adolescents below 15 years old who:
have already begun childbearing are already pregnant have experienced sexual abuse, have had miscarriage are sexually active or engaged in high-risk behavior.
In all other cases not covered by these provisions, consent to access reproductive health services should be obtained from the parents or legal guardian if the adolescent is below 15 years of age or is mentally incapacitated.
In cases when the adolescent’s parents or legal guardian cannot be located despite reasonable efforts, or if the adolescent’s parents or legal guardian refused to give consent, it shall be obtained from a duly licensed and trained health service provider.
“The bill aims to promote and protect the basic human rights of adolescents, particularly their rights to sexual and reproductive health, development as well as education and participation,” House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list, one of the principal authors of the measure, said.
Bersales said that the measure would be “vital” in the implementation of the Philippine Population and Development Plan of Action for 2023 to 2028.
“Under the action plan’s eight key strategies is the further advancement of Filipino teens’ health and development, where the phenomenon of early parenthood is specifically addressed,” the CPD said. — BM, GMA Integrated News