January 31, 2008
On Wednesday, a group of residents in the Philippines' capital city asked the Court of Appeals to halt the implementation of an order that bans the distribution of contraceptives in Manila's health centers and hospitals. The directive, issued by former Mayor Lito Atienza in February 2000, bans the distribution of contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills, and intrauterine devices.
The ban mostly affects poor women, said the petitioners, most of whom are women. "The issuance and continuing enforcement of [the order] has resulted in the ongoing and deliberate deprivation of public access to reproductive health information and artificial contraception to residents of the city of Manila," said the group.
The petitioners said they have attempted to convince current Mayor Alfredo Lim to repeal the order, but they have been unsuccessful. "So it's now the court that can best decide on this," said Junice Demetrio Melgar, executive director of Likhaan, an organization that promotes reproductive health rights and is supporting the petitioners.
Melgar said her organization and the petitioners hope the court will set a legal precedent that will deter other local governments from issuing similar orders and policies.