Philippines Supreme Court temporarily blocks state funding for contraceptives

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] on Tuesday temporarily blocked implementation of a law that provides for state funding of contraceptives. The legislation [HB 4244, PDF], which was signed into law last year following approval [JURIST report] by the Philippines legislature, establishes sex education requirements in schools, provides for government funding of contraceptives and other family planning services, and guarantees the right to receive reproductive health care information for all individuals. James Imbong, son of the legal counsel for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) [official website], petitioned [JURIST report] the Supreme Court in January to block the law, claiming that it violates Article II, Section 12 [text] of the country's constitution, which provides for state recognition of "the sanctity of family." The Supreme Court halted implementation of the law until June 18 when both sides will have an opportunity to argue their case. A spokesman for Philippine President Bengino Aquino [official website] stated that the government is confident that the law is constitutional [AP report].

Government funding for contraceptives and mandatory sex education continues to be a controversial issue throughout the world. Last month the Obama administration issued a new rule [JURIST report] allowing religious nonprofit groups in the US to opt out of the birth control coverage mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text, JURIST backgrounder]. In October France's legislature approved a bill [JURIST report] that pays for contraceptive and abortion coverage for minors. That same month, as US federal appeals court declined [JURIST report] to rehear a Texas Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] funding case in which it ruled that a ban on state funding to clinics affiliated with abortion providers was constitutional. In May of last year, the Tennessee House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] that augments the state's abstinence-only sex education curriculum to allow parents to sue school teachers or organizations that promote "gateway sexual activity." In 2009, a German court rejected [JURIST report] a religious challenge to mandatory sex education because it said there is a strong governmental interest in compulsory education and the curriculum was "neutral and tolerant" toward religious beliefs.

 

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