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Citizens Suing for Birth Control in Philippines

A group of impoverished Filipino citizens have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to gain access to condoms, the pill, and other forms of contraception. The plaintiffs argue that the denial of affordable contraception has resulted in unwanted pregnancies and harmful health effects.

In February 2000, Manila's mayor issued an executive order, branding contraception harmful to Filipino values. Health officials interpreted the order as a prohibition. As a result, previously free condoms and pills disappeared from clinics. Hospitals have since been denying sterilization procedures as well. Any contraception that is available is prohibitively expensive.

The Philippines has no official national policy regarding contraception in the 80 percent Catholic country. But even the president endorses the Church's views that artificial contraception should not be used. In addition, abortion is illegal and efforts to legislate guaranteed funding of AIDS prevention or family planning services have been blocked. It's certainly eye-opening to think about the reproductive rights so many of us take for granted.

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