February 14, 2011
Advocates on Monday passed out free condoms at a public market in Manila in support of a reproductive health (RH) bill that would boost access to contraceptives and require sex education in the schools. "Happy Valentine's Day! Support the RH bill. Here's a free condom," said supporters. "Love yourself, love your partner, love your family, be safe," said Kaka Bag-ao, a member of congress and bill co-author. The measure would mandate local and national health units provide all forms of family planning to couples, and hospitals provide post-abortion services, without legalizing abortion. The bill has been approved at the House committee level, but it needs the support of two-thirds of the 283-member body to advance, and just over 100 have voiced support. "This is not a choice for the government. The government has the obligation to provide choice to the public," Bag-ao said. President Benigno Aquino III has been in consultations with Roman Catholic Church representatives to negotiate a compromise measure. He has suggested reframing the issue as empowering parents to decide the number of children they want.