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Philippines President Lifts Ban on Contraceptives

President Rodrigo Duterte’s government recently repealed a ban on contraception – a rather surprising move in the predominantly Catholic Philippines – in an effort to reduce poverty and boost economic development.

According to CNN Philippines, Duterte marked 2018 as the deadline to provide poor women with access to modern methods of contraception.

"This Order aims to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain 'zero unmet need for modern family planning' for all poor households by 2018," reads Executive Order No. 12, signed by Duterte on January 9 and released last Wednesday, according to the news source.

Despite efforts by recent presidents, including Benigno Aquino III, Duterte’s predecessor, to provide more open access to birth control, the country’s Supreme Court issued a temporary ban in 2015 after complaints about contraceptives, which included abortions. Even though the government contested the ban, the move was taken in order to avoid making enemies of influential Catholic bishops.

Regarding the new executive order, Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority Ernesto Pernia said in the press briefing: “We feel that it is pro-life, pro-women, pro-children, and pro-economic development," according to CNN.

"There is a plan in the next six months for local governments to go out in the field, to do house-to-house visits, identify those in need of family planning, [and work] with all these agencies,” Pernia continued.

In addition to making contraceptives more available, the Philippines’ Department of Education is now tasked with implementing a "gender-sensitive and rights-based" sex education program in schools. 

The local department of social welfare and development is also set to integrate the birth control order with strategies in the national poverty reduction and social protection programs.

[Photo via Wall Street Journal]

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