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Manila birth control law takes effect

MANILA: A controversial birth control law came into effect in the Philippines yesterday after more than a decade of bitter opposition from the Catholic church.
Supporters say the measures will help moderate the nation’s rapid population growth, reduce poverty and bring down high maternal mortality.
But Catholic groups have shifted their battle to the courts, questioning the law’s constitutionality.
The government also has to go through “consultations” with various stakeholders including international and local medical and religious groups, said Hazel Chua, an official at the Health Department’s family planning unit.
“It has a lot of broad strokes in it that need a lot of guidelines. It will take a lot of time before (the law) will go down to the ground,” she told AFP.
One provision of the law, legalizing post-abortion medical care, is still undergoing special study since abortion remains illegal in the Philippines, Chua added.
President Benigno Aquino signed the bill into law last month in the face of strong lobbying by the church.
The church is now relying on lay groups that have filed petitions with the Supreme Court to challenge the law, said Roy Lagarde, a spokesman for the country’s Catholic bishops.
But the legislation’s chief author Congressman Edcel Lagman said he was confident it would not be struck down.
“We have long expected that the opposition will go to the Supreme Court. We have prepared for this eventuality,” he told AFP.