[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] on Tuesday unanimously approved Republic Act 10354 [press release, PDF] expanding public access to family planning and reproductive health services. The bill, which was approved by both houses of parliament [JURIST report] and signed by President Benigno Aquino [official profile] over a year ago, requires government health centers to provide contraceptives and mandates sex education in schools. The bill has faced controversy from religious groups in the predominantly Catholic country who believe that the law’s implementation will undermine marriage and promote promiscuity. The UN has hailed the decision as helping the Philippines meet the Millennium Development Goal [official websites] to reduce maternal mortality.
Reproductive rights continue to be a controversial issue throughout the world. Earlier this month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit temporarily blocked [JURIST report] Arizona from enforcing a statute that would prohibit women from taking abortion medication after seven weeks into the pregnancy. The statute had taken effect two days earlier when a federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] refused to block it [JURIST report]. The Philippines’ reproductive health bill was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court following religious opposition.