Philippines: Landmark Law Crucial for Women’s Health

Carlos Conde – Human Rights Watch – Friday, 21 December 2012 (originally published 16 Dec)

Mothers and babies sharing beds in the maternity ward

Mothers and their children at the maternity ward of the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, a government hospital in Manila, Philippines. Image: © 2011 Carlos Conde/Human Rights Watch

(Manila) – The Philippines’ expected passage of a reproductive health law will be a massive step forward to promote women’s health and lives, Human Rights Watch said today. The prime objectives of the Reproductive Health Bill, which is scheduled for a final vote during the week of December 17, 2012, include increasing access to a range of reproductive health services and reducing maternal deaths.

The bill, first filed in Congress more than a decade ago, was ignored by lawmakers for years because of strong opposition led by the Roman Catholic Church. President Benigno Aquino III, facing calls from Catholic bishops for his excommunication for supporting the law, certified the bill as “urgent” on December 13, expediting the vote in Congress.

“The Reproductive Health Bill will have profound implications for improving the health and lives of women throughout the country,” said Carlos Conde, Asia researcher. “The Aquino administration should be credited for having the political will to muster support for the bill in Congress despite the threat of a political backlash” . . .

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