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(UPDATE) Supreme Court okays reproductive health law

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Supreme Court (SC) today has given its approval to a law which seeks to expand the access of Filipinos to all methods of family planning and healthcare services.

In a unanimous decision, the country's highest court upheld the constitutionality of most of the provisions of Republic Act 10354 or the Reproductive Health (RH) law.

"The Court unanimously held that the RH law is not unconstitutional," SC Spokesman Theodore Te told reporters in a press conference.

The SC, however, thumbed down provisions relating to access to family planning and penalties for not providing information on reproductive health and the performance of medical procedures.

Under RA 10354, the law requires government health centers to hand out free condoms and birth control pills. It also mandates the provision of sex education in schools.

The law also requires public health workers to undergo family planning training, while post abortion medical care is also legalized.

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino III signed RA 10354 in December 2012 despite intense pressure from church groups.

The implementation of the law was halted after the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against it in March 2013. The TRO remained in effect while the SC deliberated on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the RH law.

Meanwhile, the United Nations hailed the SC's decision, saying it will be a big boost to the Philippines' efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on maternal mortality.

The UN said the SC ruling came at a "crucial" time given that the Philippines will be hard pressed to meet the goal of halving maternal mortality ratio by next year.  


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