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Philippine birth control law takes effect amid opposition from Church

Published on Jan 17, 2013 2:51 PM
In this photo taken Jan 16, 2013, mothers with their children wait for family planning services at the Likhaan Center for Women's Health in Baseco, a massive slum in Manila where more than 60,000 people compete for space. A historic birth control law that took effect in the Philippines on Jan 17, 2013, requires government health centres to hand out free condoms and birth control pills, benefiting tens of millions of the country's poor who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to them. -- PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - A controversial birth control law came into effect in the Philippines on Thursday after more than a decade of bitter opposition from the influential Catholic church, with women saying the change came as a relief.

The government is still figuring out how to implement the law, which proponents say will help moderate the nation's rapid population growth, reduce poverty and bring down high maternal mortality.

But Catholic groups have already shifted their battle to the courts, questioning the law's constitutionality. The church, which counts 80 per cent of Filipinos as followers, disallows the use of artificial contraceptives.

A group of women lining up for contraceptives at a non-governmental organisation's health centre in a slum area of Manila said the change of law came as a relief.

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