Rising number of teenage pregnancies alarms officials

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In the Philippines, one girl aged 15 to 19 gives birth every two and a half minutes.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Officials sounded the alarm on the rising number of teenage pregnancies in the country in a health forum on Tuesday (January 12).

May-I Fabros of the Philippine Commission on Women (PWC) and the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) said one girl aged 15 to 19 gives birth every two and a half minutes in the Philippines.

She added 15 percent of women who have sex before they are 15 years old do so under coercion.

Fabros also cited a study by the group WomanHealth Philippines saying most teenage girls think sexual intercourse is the only way to express love and affection.

Teenage girls refuse reproductive health services due to the stigma of being labeled promiscuous at an early age, Fabros added.

RH budget cut worsens problem

CWC Deputy Executive Director Mary Joy Segui said Philippine law limits the minors' access to information and services as they would need parental consent to avail reproductive health services.

According to Segui, the government should support pregnant teens and young parents, and even the male partners should be involved in reproductive health programs.

But officials said the P1 billion cut on the budget for reproductive health and contraceptives complicates the problem.

Fabros said the effect of the budget cut would be seen immediately, citing an instance during the past administration when the budget cut for pills in Quezon City resulted in the spike of pregnancies in a span of one month.

She added it might also discourage women from asking contraceptives even when the budget is reinstated.

"Teen pregnancy is not the source of poverty, neither source of problems but a symptom of the problematic health system and community health structure that we have," Fabros said.