Pathfinder Applauds Passage of Reproductive Health Bill in Philippines

On Monday, the Philippines passed a significant bill that will give millions of women the right to access contraception information and services. The new measure, known as the Reproductive Health Bill, will make contraceptives accessible through government health centers, including those in remote areas, with free or subsidized contraceptive options for the poor. It will also require sex education in public schools and family planning training for community health officers. While contraception is legal and available for those who can afford it, many methods have been difficult to find in rural areas and high costs have made them inaccessible to the poor.

“This is a significant step forward for a country that has seen a long debate on reproductive health and rights.”“This is a significant step forward for a country that has seen a long debate on reproductive health and rights,” Purnima Mane, President of Pathfinder, said. “It’s heartening to see that the Philippines have joined the global community of those of us who feel that every woman deserves the right to access family planning information and services. Pathfinder congratulates the parliamentarians and the reproductive health community leaders who brought this discussion and debate to an end in the only way it should have ended. The men and women of the Philippines will benefit greatly by this decision.”

The Philippines has long been divided over the provision of contraception through government health facilities. Despite support from many lawmakers and citizens, the bill has taken 14 years to come to fruition. A final draft of the law that brings together versions from the Senate and the House will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III for signature in early 2013. He is expected to sign the bill into law.    

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Purnima Mane, president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, told IPS, “We are delighted the final set of [proposed] SDGs contains four critical targets on SRHR: three under the health goal and one under the gender goal. But we have not reached the finish line yet. We must all continue to raise our voices to ensure these SRHR targets are intact when the final version is approved."

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