Catholic Church In The Philippines Remains ‘Important Political Actor’ In Debate Over Reproductive Health Law

The Conversation: Inside the Philippines’ long journey towards reproductive health
Gideon Lasco, PhD candidate in medical anthropology at Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam

“On January 9 2017, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order calling for universal access to modern family planning methods. The document also called for accelerated implementation of the country’s Reproductive Health Law. Popularly known as the ‘RH law,’ the measure was passed in 2012 but was suspended by the Supreme Court, following objections from religious groups that alleged the law violated the rights to religion and free speech. … [The Catholic church in the Philippines] remains an important political actor. … The RH Law itself, in an attempt to appease the church, includes ‘natural methods’ and ‘responsible parenthood’ in its language, and mentions ‘religious convictions’ seven times. … [I]t’s highly unlikely that the church will change its mind. Even so, the fact that two presidents — belonging to two opposing political camps — have supported reproductive health raises hopes that it is becoming a post-political, post-ecclesiastical issue. After a long journey, there’s reason to hope that the RH law will finally be implemented in full in the Philippines, and with it, badly needed population and HIV control programs” (5/9).