The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has vowed to ensure that there is “zero unmet demand” for contraception in his country by 2018.
Although contraception is technically legal, implementation has been held up in the courts with its opponents claiming that it is abortifacient. The Duterte government feels that unless it is freely available, the Philippines, a country of more than 100 million, will be unable to meet its poverty reduction target. This is to bring poverty levels down from 25% to to 13% by the end of Duterte's six-year term in 2022.
Government officials say that they will roll out the plan in the next six months. Local government officials will do house-to-house visits to identify women who need family planning. The Department of Education has also been told to implement a "gender sensitive and rights-based" sexuality education in schools.
The Philippines is 86% Catholic and President Duterte is well aware that the bishops are adamantly opposed to his “anti-life” plans. His administration counters that it is “pro-life, pro-women, pro-children, and pro-economic development."
Four years ago, under President Noynoy Aquino, a Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law was enacted, which permitted contraception – although abortion for any reason remains illegal. However, the law immediately was challenged in the courts. In 2015 a temporary restraining order was issued against implants, the most popular method, which still has not been lifted. Furthermore, Congress cut the budget of the contraception program to the bone.
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