The Philippines passes Reproductive Health Law

07 JANUARY 2013 – Manila, The Philippines - After fourteen years of being stuck in Congress, the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012" has finally been signed into law on Friday 21 December 2012 by President Benigno Aquino III of The Philippines.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II confirmed that it was signed on Friday 28 December 2012. The following day, the Presidency (Malacañang) issued a statement saying:

President Benigno Aquino III's administration called for reconciliation on Saturday after a "divisive" birth control act was signed into law despite bitter opposition from the Catholic church. Making sex education and contraceptives more widely available to the poor, the legislation takes effect in mid-January, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. "The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history -- a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act," Valte said in a statement.

According to the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development: “The enactment of the RH Law is a huge leap for the Philippines towards achieving its commitment to the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action “

“Thirteen years and 4 months since it was first filed in Congress, the Philippines enacted a law funding the distribution of free contraceptives, requiring government hospitals to provide reproductive health (RH) services, and mandating public schools to teach sex education. The delivery of RH services remains the primary responsibility of the national government - not local government units - and optional for most private hospitals. Except in special cases, minors need parental consent to access family planning methods. Sex education is also optional for private schools. The new law illegalizes contraception bans previously in place in Manila City and posh community Ayala, Alabang.

UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde said in the launch of 2012 a State of the World Population Report: “Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development. Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labour-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”

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