The Philippines Senate and House of Representatives have passed a Reproductive Health Bill by signficant margins. Bills of this kind have been proposed repeatedly over the past 13 years and have always been highly controversial because of oppostiion from those opposed to contraception and other contentious aspects of the bills. However, it is unclear exactly what the new law will say, as the houses passed it in two different versions, and will have to compile an agreed-upon text before it can be signed into law by the president. [Modern Medicine]
- Carrie Severino* | My organization, the Judicial Education Project, in conjunction with two leading Jewish Orthodox Groups, Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel, has filed an amicus curiae brief in a Becket Fund case, Stormans Inc. v. Mary Selecky, et al. . . . Stormans challenges the constitutionality of Washington State’s Board of Pharmacy regulations that require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense emergency contraceptives. Unfortunately, this regulatory burden falls—due to secular regulatory exemptions and the Board’s selective regulatory enforcement—exclusively on religious objections to emergency contraception, while passing over similarly situated non-religious objectors. . .
The U.N. Population Fund’s annual report claims that access to birth control is a human right. The report has no legal significance, but activists like the American based Center for Reproductive Rights have pursued a strategy of seeking such declarations, or “soft norms,” in the hope that they will eventually lead to binding “harde norms” that can be enforced against governments and objecting health care workers. (See Secret Memos Reveal Worldwide Pro-Abortion Legal Strategy)
The Philippines House of Representatives has voted to end 19 months of debate on the Reproductive Health Bill. It is expected to pass before the end of the month[Philippine Star]. The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) intervened in the controversy in the, insisting that the bill should be passed. The country is divided on the bill. It is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. [Philippine Star]
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that intra-uterine devices, DMPA injections and contraceptive implants are significantly more effective than birth control pills, patches or rings.
Brooke Winner, M.D., et al, Effectiveness of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1998-2007
An Aberdeen pharmacy has become the first in the country to offer birth control pills directly from a specially trained pharmacist, thus avoiding the need to obtain prescriptions from physicians. The new scheme will be tested in a Boots the Chemist outlet, and will be available to women who are at least16 years of age. [Scotsman]
The Obama administration’s alternative scheme for providing insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and embryocidal drugs is being marketed as cost-free by its supporters. They argue that the coverage can be provided by insurance companies without additional cost to the employer because it is actually cheaper to offer health insurance with birth control coverage than without it. Others insist that costs will be passed on to the employer through insurance premiums. [Time; NPR]
Spokesmen for the Obama administration have stated that the President is committed to the policy of forcing universal insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and embryocidal drugs. The administration opposes the passage protection of conscience legislation like S2092 -the Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, S2043 -the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, and S1467 – Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011. [Washington Post; Reuters]
A Bill to Enact the Safe Motherhood Law (2012) will be proposed in Tanzania in February for the purpose of enforcing ‘rights to access reproductive health care,’ a term frequently associated with suppression of freedom of conscience among health care workers. It is reported to include sections dealing with contraceptives and family planning, maternal and new-born health, sexual and reproductive health of adolescents, abortion, and “enforcement mechanisms.” [All Africa]
Sindh, the second largest province in Pakistan, is setting up a Population Council for the purpose of implementing a population control programme. Among the concerns voiced by supporters of the plan is that most people are reluctant to adopt contraception, and that many medical professionals object to abortion for religious reasons. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan (SOGP) organized a seminar on abortion, during which a spokesman for the Society stated that abortion is “purely a health issue and must not be confused with religion and culture.” The assertion was inconsistent with a statement made at the conference that Islamic scholars permit abortion during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. This at least implies some religious opposition to abortion after 16 weeks, and that the procedure is not “purely” a health issue. [Indo-Asian News Service; Pakistan Today]