Philippines to back birth control28th September 2010
Despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic church, the Philippines government has decided it will distribute contraceptives to impoverished couples.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he felt that the government was obliged to inform everybody of their responsibilities and their choices, and that he also hoped the government could assist people who wanted to use birth control.
In the Philippines, the Catholic church is a powerful political force, counting more than 80% of the population as its adherents.
In the past, prominent Catholics in the Philippines have found ways to attack public officials who tried to promote the idea of using birth control methods.
Aquino said he believed that couples were in the best position to determine how to space births and what birth control method suited them best.
He said that the government was willing to assist people who took such responsibilities, determining what was best on behalf of their families.
In the past, Catholic influences in the politics of the Philippines have blocked the passage of laws that would require some public spending on family planning programmes.
Earlier this year, a survey revealed that up to 68% of all people in the Philippines believe that the government should help couples acquire legal birth control methods.
The next month, bishops in the Catholic Church demanded that Esperanza Cabral, who was health secretary at the time, resign from her post, after her department distributed condoms on Valentine’s Day.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines have already warned President Benigno Aquino that they will back protests against the government.
Father Melvin Castro, acting as a spokesman for the bishops, said that it was the legal right of the clergy to protest, and that though the bishops themselves would not join in on the protests, they would morally support the protests from afar.
Aquino comes from a staunchly Catholic family, and his mother was a close political ally of the Catholic Church.
He won the May election by a landslide, promising to do away with corruption in the Philippines government.
The Philippines is the 12th most populous nation in the world, with a current estimated population of 94.01 million.
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