Philippines contraceptive law back in court

Church leaders admit derailing it will be tough

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: July 09, 2013 10:00 PM GMT

Supporters of the birth control law gather outside the Supreme Court at the start of oral arguments on the legislation (Photo by Rene Sandajan)

Oral arguments on 15 petitions filed against a controversial law allowing artificial birth control began yesterday in the country's Supreme Court.

Catholic Church leaders who support the petitions say they face an uphill battle to stop the implementation of the law which was finally passed last year by Congress after years of wrangling.  

Their fears appeared justified soon after proceedings began yesterday when Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and several other justices questioned the court's jurisdiction over the issue and hinted they might dismiss the petitions.

Are we in a position to supplant moves of Congress on a policy decision? the chief justice said.

They said the Supreme Court did not appear to be the right forum – at least for now – to contest the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, popularly known as the reproductive health law.

The law requires government health centers to hand out free condoms and birth control pills, especially to the country's poor who have no access to contraceptives.

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