December 21, 2012 — "For too long in the Philippine Congress, the priorities of the Roman Catholic Church took precedence over what most Filipinos wanted -- and needed," a Los Angeles Times editorial states. "Finally, after 14 years of debate and delay," lawmakers this week passed a bill (HB 4244) that would provide government funding for contraception and sex education.
Although more than 80% of the nation's population is Catholic, "birth control has long been available" in the Philippines; however, cost is a considerable barrier for many Filipinos, the editorial notes. About half of pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, and although abortion is banned, close to half a million occur annually, the editorial states.
"[T]he church hierarchy in the Philippines has up to now been successful at both the national and local levels, persuading many city officials not to allow contraceptives at community health clinics for the poor," the editorial continues.
Church leaders are "entitled to their viewpoint, but it is the job of lawmakers to respond to the population's needs rather than church doctrine," the editorial states, noting that 70% of Filipinos support the bill. The editorial concludes, "[W]omen must ultimately have the right to choose"(Los Angeles Times, 12/19).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership