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In Philippines, Church Entitled To Opinion On Birth Control, But Women Have Right To Choose

“Finally, after 14 years of debate and delay, lawmakers [in the Philippines] passed a bill that will provide free or subsidized birth control to poor people as well as require sex education in schools and mandate training in family planning for community health workers,” a Los Angeles Times editorial states. “For too long in the Philippine Congress, the priorities of the Roman Catholic Church took precedence over what most Filipinos wanted — and needed,” the editorial states. “The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing populations in Asia, and is also one of the most densely populated countries,” the editorial notes, adding, “It cannot produce enough food to feed its 96 million people.”

“But the church hierarchy in the Philippines has up to now been successful at both the national and local levels, persuading many city officials not to allow contraceptives at community health clinics for the poor,” the editorial continues. “Church leaders are, of course, entitled to their viewpoint, but it is the job of lawmakers to respond to the population’s needs rather than to church doctrine,” the Los Angeles Times states, adding, “And birth control is one issue on which most of the nation differs with Roman Catholic teaching.” The editorial concludes, “The church has every right to try to persuade women to follow its dictates, but women must ultimately have the right to choose” (12/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.