Philippines Supreme Court Upholds Law Promoting Reproductive Health Access
The Philippines Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the country's Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, also known as the RH Law, is constitutional. The law directs government health centers to provide free access to nearly all contraceptives, including to the poor, and requires reproductive health education at government-run school for children and young adults age 10-19. The law also provides for post-abortion care.
President Benigno S. Aquino III signed the RH Law in December 2012, but Catholic groups immediately challenged it in court prompting the Supreme Court to halt its implementation while it decided the case.
"Today, conscience rights have prevailed, despite aggressive lobbying over the last decade and a half by the Catholic bishops and their powerful antichoice allies, said Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. "Although not perfect, the RH Law begins to address some of the country's largest health problems - including the high maternal mortality rate - that disproportionately affect low-income women."
Opponents have 15 days to appeal the ruling.
Media Resources: Catholics for Choice Press Release, 4/8/2014; Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release, 4/8/2014; Al Jazeera America 4/8/2014
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Provisions of the law include possible imprisonment of HIV-positive individuals, a ten-year prison sentence and fine for the "intentional transmission of HIV," a five-year prison sentence for "attempted transmission of HIV," and compulsory testing in some situations. . . .