Metro Manila · The Reproductive Health Law

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines declared the Reproductive Health Law constitutional in April 2014, putting an end to the debate regarding birth control, sex education, and maternal care. By 2016, during his first State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned that the RH Law will be in full force.

It took a while before the so-called RH Bill was passed and became the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012" (RH Law). Over the years, supporters and opponents of the bill argued about its provisions all over the country: in parliament, in the media, in street protests, in online forums, and at dinner tables. 

Most people could agree on the law's provisions regarding better health care for children and mothers. What sparked the controversy was the widespread distribution of contraceptives such as condoms and birth control pills - along with sexual education and counseling - funded by the government and the private sector. 

Abortion remains strictly prohibited under Philippine law, but the bill includes a provision to ensure that women with post-abortion complications are taken care of.

Supporters of the RH Law argued that family planning reduces poverty and health risks, and that it lowers abortion rates. They also point out that a high percentage among poorer women express a desire to avoid pregnancies, but that they lack information and access to contraceptive methods.

Opponents of the law argued, for one, that the Philippines is not a welfare state and taxpayers should not be obliged to finance contraception. More importantly, however, was the opposition by the Catholic church and other groups and individuals on religious grounds. 

The Supreme Court struck down several provisions of the RH Law (click here for an overview), but upheld all major provisions, such as the free distribution of condoms and birth control pills by government health centers, and mandatory sex education in schools.

++Update August 12, 2016+++

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talked about the full implementation of the Reproductive Health law during his first State of the Nation Adddress.

Duterte said, "The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice in the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force."

 

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