In 2012, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III (below) signed a law to make government-funded sex education and contraception widely available to the nation’s poor. The law made so much sense and helped so many people… that the Catholic Church felt compelled to oppose it, saying at the time that the law was “an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life — [and] that contraceptives promote promiscuity and destroy life.”
(What’s that? Contraception prevents abortion rather than causes it? You and your silly logic…)
“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the law.
But Catholic Archbishop Oscar Cruz, in an interview with local television station ANC, criticized the ruling, saying, “It is not really reproductive health… because it prevents reproduction.”
Some of the provisions were struck down, including one that gave minors access to birth control without parental notification, but the bill is still a net victory for supporters of church/state separation.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement calling those struck down provisions a partial victory for their side, since the law is now at least “watered down.” (I guess that means they won’t be appealing the decision, something they did have the option to do.)
That conciliatory gesture is a savvy PR move on the Church’s part. Considering the popularity of the reproductive health law, combined with the Court’s decision, it’s no secret that the Church and its leaders are losing popularity quickly. If they don’t accept the fact that many Filipinos see them as an obstacle and not as beacons of wisdom, they’ll continue bleeding parishioners.