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Philippines legislature approves reproductive health bill

The Philippines House of Representatives [official website] approved legislation [HB 4244, PDF; press release] on Monday which establishes mandatory sex education in schools and government funding for contraceptives and family planning services and also guarantees all individuals the right to receive reproductive health care information. The bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before it becomes law. The Catholic Church, which remains an influential institution in the Philippines where 80 percent of the population is Catholic, opposes the bill, arguing that it will lead to the destruction of marriage and morality [CNN report] in the country. Philippines House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte called the passage of the bill "historic" [press release] after it had been pending for 13 years.

The right to sex education and contraceptives, particularly funding issues, continues to be a global issue. In October France approved [JURIST report] a bill to pay for contraceptive and abortion coverage for minors. The day before that, a US federal appeals court declined [JURIST report] to rehear a Texas Planned Parenthood funding case. In September an Illinois appeals court ruled [JURIST report] that pharmacists can refuse to dispense birth control drugs. In May the Tennessee House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill that augments the state's abstinence-only sex education curriculum to allow parents to sue school teachers or organizations that promote "gateway sexual activity" [JURIST report]. In 2009 a German court rejected a challenge [JURIST report] on religious grounds to mandatory sex education.

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