MANILA, Philippines (June 6 2011) (Xinhua) - The controversial reproductive health (RH) bill has finally been endorsed for plenary debates at the Senate, but discussions and voting on the legislation will take place in July as Congress goes on recess on Thursday.
Twenty senators signed Committee Report No. 49 of the Senate committees on finance, health and demography, and youth, women and family relations, paving the way for heated arguments, just like in the House of Representatives, on whether to allow or not unhindered public access to contraceptives.
The committee report contained the consolidated reproductive health bill versions of Santiago and Lacson.
The Senate's RH bill seeks to "provide information and access, without bias, to all methods of family planning which have been proven safe and effective in accordance with scientific and evidence-based medical standards such as those set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."
The RH bill, which proposes to "guarantee to universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services," is one of the most contentious issues in the Philippines. The bill has been filed in previous congresses but was never passed into law.
The Catholic Church only promotes natural family planning methods and is against the use of artificial forms of contraception like condoms and contraceptive pills.