Philippines President Aquino defies Catholic Church to push family planning

By Reuters Staff
October 3, 2012

(Pregnant teenagers queue for a free pre-natal check-up during a medical mission for teenage pregnancy conducted by the aid agency United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in the slum community of Vitas in Tondo, Manila August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Erik De Castro)

Philippine President Benigno Aquino is squaring off against his country’s powerful Catholic church in a bid to give people free access to the means to limit the size of their families.

The predominately Catholic country has one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations together with significant levels of chronic poverty. While neighbours have accelerated towards prosperity, the Philippines has lagged.

Economists say high population growth is a primary factor for that, but the church disagrees. It says population growth is not a cause of poverty and that people need jobs, not contraception.

Aquino, a Catholic like 80 percent of the population, has thrown his support behind a reproductive health bill that will, if passed by the two houses of Congress, guarantee access to free birth control and promote sex education.

Read the full story by Karen Lema here.
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