Philippines moves closer to birth control law

December 18, 2012

MANILA – The Philippines moved closer to a controversial birth control law Monday as lawmakers passed a bill paving the way for increased sex education and free contraceptives, despite intense lobbying by the Catholic church.

The Senate, or upper house, passed the bill during its crucial second reading, in a move bitterly opposed by the politically influential church which is against the use of contraceptives, including condoms and birth control pills.

President Benigno Aquino has been pushing for the law, which is seen as a way of moderating the Catholic-majority nation’s population growth, reducing poverty and bringing down its high maternal mortality rate.

The proposed legislation would come into force after both houses of parliament agree on a common version that would be signed into law by Aquino. The president’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said Aquino was looking forward to signing the bill before the end of the year.

“This is historic because this bill has been pending for some time. Many administrations have tried to come up with a bill on responsible parenthood,” he told reporters.

Congressman Edcel Lagman, who initiated the bill, shrugged off warnings by the church that bishops would campaign against the proponents of the law in next year’s general elections.

“It’s more of a threat than a reality. The experience in other Catholic countries is once a law is passed on reproductive health, even the church supports the law,” he said.

Bishops across the country have argued that allowing increased sex education and the handing out of contraceptives will encourage pre-marital sex, result in the destruction of family values and lead to greater violence against women.

Source: AFP

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