The Catholic Church, which remains an influential institution in the Philippines where 80 percent of the population is Catholic, on Saturday announced that it will challenge newly approved birth control legislation [HB 4244, PDF] before the Supreme Court. The Church has opposed the new law arguing [ABC report] that it undermines the value of marriage and increase promiscuity. Critics view the new law as ineffective to control the country's fast growing population. In response, Philippine President Benigno Aquino [official profile] urged supporters and opposition, including the Church, to find alternative ways [AFP report] to resolve the differences. The new law, which had been pending for 13 years, establishes mandatory sex education in schools and government funding for contraceptives and family planning services, and also guarantees all individuals the right to receive reproductive health care information. Aquino signed the bill into law on December 21 after both chambers of the parliament approved [JURIST report] it two days earlier. The law is expected to go into effect in mid-January.
The right to sex education and contraceptives and associated funding concerns continues to be a global issue. In October, France approved [JURIST report] a bill to pay for contraceptive and abortion coverage for minors. A day earlier, a US federal appeals court declined [JURIST report] to rehear a Texas Planned Parenthood funding case. In September an Illinois appeals court ruled [JURIST report] that pharmacists can refuse to dispense birth control drugs. In May the Tennessee House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill that augments the state's abstinence-only sex education curriculum to allow parents to sue school teachers or organizations that promote "gateway sexual activity" [JURIST report]. In 2009 a German court rejected a challenge [JURIST report] on religious grounds to mandatory sex education.