Assisted reproductive technology in the Philippines

Assisted reproductive technology in the Philippines

Life and Death in the Philippines


Philippine:  In a country where contraception is controversial, abortion is illegal and reproductive rights are restricted, IVF is an unattainable dream for most couples. But things are slowly changing in the only Christian democracy in Asia: the Philippines. In December 2012, the Senate passed the Reproductive Health Bill and President Benigno Aquino III signed the measure into law, which is still not being implemented due to opposition from the ultra-orthodox Roman Catholic Church. However, the more liberal view of Pope Francis on sexuality and human reproduction may have a positive impact on this issue. While government funding for contraception is still opposed, the IVF market is estimated to grow considerably. This creates promising opportunities.


IVF, Philippines, reproductive health care, Catholicism, contraception, reproductive rights

In the summer of 2013, the news agency Reuters (1) predicted exciting opportunities for the rapidly growing IVF market in Asia as women delay childbearing and fertility plummets due to the crisis. According to Asia-Pacific industry lobby group Aspire (Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction), the IVF market will increase massively, despite expensive treatment costs. More affordable IVF options, including micro-IVF (also known as mini-IVF, eco-IVF, low-stimulation or no-stimulation IVF, and eco-IVF), as well as natural cycle IVF, are becoming popular. The future is bright for IVF, especially in India and China, but also in countries like Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

According to Aspire, “their governments are becoming concerned about the ‘low fertility trap’. This means that fewer children lead to lower spending on “education and related services, making it even more difficult to raise the birth rate.” Even less wealthy countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines, with higher birth rates, want to boost births to counter an aging population, Aspire claims.

Of course, Aspire only has wealthy customers in mind. From Indonesia to Kazakhstan and from Iran to Japan, affordable IVF means affordable for the wealthy. Introducing very cheap IVF to all sections of society in developing countries is another matter. It is a complex issue that includes not only access to cheaper IVF technology, better health care and government subsidies. In some cases, it is a confrontation with ancient prejudices of powerful moral institutions. Similar to the Philippines, an overpopulated country with the third highest birth rate in Asia, where daily life is dominated by the ultra-Orthodox Catholic Church. Her approach to IVF is a major no-no.

Fire circle

It is a land of extremes and opposites. Due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and tropical climate, the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries on the planet. Surrounded by the Sulu Sea, the Celebes Sea, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the 7,107 Philippine islands are prone to earthquakes and typhoons. Not only is the weather extreme; the bio-cultural diversity of the country is spectacularly rich and in many ways unique. Malay and Chinese influence, mixed with indigenous cultures, blended with 300 years of Spanish, almost 50 years of American and 5 years of Japanese rule. The result is a complicated, family-oriented and idiosyncratic culture that is difficult to evaluate by Western or other standards.


This remarkable developing country has other crowns on its head: it is the third largest English-speaking nation and one of the friendliest countries on the planet; it is the first democracy and the only Catholic country in Asia. While it is true that the Filipino definitions of “democracy” and “Catholicism” are somewhat unusual. The Catholic Church still dominates much of the ethical and moral spectrum in a way that resembles the pre-conciliar Church in Europe and America. While its population strikes foreigners as extremely pleasant and helpful, the country is prone to much violence. Endemic corruption, clan violence and deep political rivalries always lead to bloody elections. The military regularly clashes with communist NPA rebels and the Muslim Moro National Liberation Front on the resource-rich island of Mindanao. And in the midst of all this turmoil and uncertainty are Filipino children. They are one of the treasures of the Philippines.





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