Philippine reproductive health bill passes major hurdle

A highly contentious reproductive health bill passed a major hurdle on 31 January after being approved by a committee of the Philippines House of Representatives.

The consolidated bill, which proposes national funding for, and access to, reproductive healthcare services and products, has been hotly debated for nearly 15 years. It still requires approval by the Senate, but advocates describe the committee’s vote as a major step forward.

“With this development, there is no reason now for the president not to classify the bill as urgent and get it passed at the soonest possible time,” Elizabeth Angsioco, chair of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, told IRIN.

President Aquino has remained “steadfast” in supporting bill, “unlike the previous administration which was ambivalent, to say the least”, said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the bill’s principal authors.