Philippines make a move forward on Reproductive Rights – RC Church Displeased

The Philippines recently passed legislation to provide free contraception to poor Filipinos and, as you would expect, the Catholic Church fought it tooth and nail. Over 80% of Filipinos are members of the Roman Catholic Church, but that doesn’t stop overwhelming support for this initiative.

After the bill was passed, the RC Church took the government to court claiming that the law was unconstitutional. The results were not in the church’s favour.

The Philippine Supreme Court has struck down a legal challenge to a controversial birth control law that supporters say could transform the lives of millions of poor Filipinos, despite bitter opposition from the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church.

“The RH law is not unconstitutional,” Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters on Tuesday, announcing the ruling denying the petitions to the law filed by church groups.

The law requires the government to provide free contraception to the poorest Filipinos, and conduct safe sex education in schools.

“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Edcel Lagman, a congressman and the principal author of the law.

The church had been successful in blocking similar legislation for over decade, and now, some are calling for martyrdom over the issue.

One of its hardline opponents and a petitioner to the court, former senator Francisco Tatad, said allowing the law to take effect could force Catholics into an open revolt.

“This means civil disobedience at the very least, actual revolt at the most extreme,” Tatad wrote in a commentary in the Manila Times newspaper on Tuesday.

“Some of us will want to defy the power of the devil and die as martyrs, if need be, in the only cause that gives us a chance to fight for something much bigger than ourselves.”

Supporters recognize that providing free contraception to the poor is part of the solution in reducing the population growth in the nation. The population of this 300,000 sq km nation has tripled in the past 30 years, and is expected to reach 100,000,000 this year. Besides slowing population growth, supporters are hoping to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.

Church leaders are campaigning for people to ignore the option for contraception, even if options are free.

Father Melvin Castro, of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said contraceptives were not the answer to poverty. “They are poor not because they have no access to contraceptives but because they have no work. Give them work and it will be the most effective birth spacing means for them.”

As further proof that anti-contraception campaigners are pro-death, recent figures show a 36% rise in maternal death rates.

Martyrs die, women die, the Church is happy.

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