Reproductive health activists in the Philippines have to cause to celebrate, as the country has dissolved a major impediment to women exercising autonomy over their bodies.  A Nov. 10 advisory from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration verified 51 contraceptives as “non-abortifacient” after backlash from pro-life organizations prompted a governmental review.

In a momentous win for women, the country’s 2012 Reproductive Health Law ensured those “living in the deeply Catholic and densely populated nation universal access to contraception, fertility control and maternal care, and mandated sex education in schools,” according to the New York Times.

However, allegations equating contraceptives with abortifacients prompted the Supreme Court to impose partial restrictions on the law in 2015, effectively revoking crucial rights the Reproductive Health Law afforded women. A July ruling required FDA clearance of the contraceptives to lift the restraining order.

The administration’s list, published Sunday, includes injectables, intrauterine devices and pills, as well as implants, of which the Philippine health department has more than 200,000 that will expire in September 2018.  No longer banned pending FDA review, these contraceptives can now be valuably deployed to empower women, not languish on pharmacy shelves.

A January op-doc from the Times illustrates socioeconomic threats to women’s reproductive health in the Philippines, chronicling procedures and programs–including contraceptive counseling–at a resource-poor Manila maternity hospital.

Photo by: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

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