Philippine legislators were Monday poised to pass landmark birth control laws paving the way for increased sex education and free contraceptives, despite lobbying by the Catholic church, the bill’s author said.
The Philippine Senate is due to vote on the Reproductive Health Bill during its crucial second reading, while the House of Representatives will vote for the third and final time late Monday, said Congressman Edcel Lagman.
Lagman said he was confident the bill would be approved by both the House and the Senate, which each need to pass it in three readings — the third of which is largely seen as a formality.
Bishops across the country have argued that laws allowing increased sex education and the handing out of contraception will encourage pre-marital sex and lead to the legalization of abortion.
The bill will be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino if both houses of parliament agree on a common version.
Lagman, who has been pushing family planning legislation for more than a decade, said he was confident the two chambers would reach agreement.
He shrugged off intense lobbying by the Catholic church, including warnings that bishops would campaign against advocates of the bill in next year’s elections.
The bill is seen as a way of moderating the country’s population growth, reducing poverty and bringing down the high maternal mortality rate.