Aquino wants end to Philippine birth control debate
MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino Tuesday called on legislators to finally vote on a controversial birth control bill after months of debate over what is a highly divisive issue in the conservative country.
The bill would pave the way for the introduction of sex education in schools and the provision of free contraceptives, but has polarised the largely Catholic nation of 100 million people.
"He wants the debates to end so it can be put to a vote," the president's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said after Benigno met with members of the House of Representatives to call for a final decision.
"It's one of the most divisive issues that have confronted us. There has to be an end to the debate."
Women's groups as well as the United Nations have been pushing for the law to be passed, saying it would help to bring down poverty as well as the Philippines' high rate of deaths in childbirth.
However, the measure is opposed by the politically influential Catholic church, which is against the use of contraceptives, including condoms and birth control pills.
Aquino is calling for a vote on the bill in the lower house this week so that it can go to the senate before either being signed into law or vetoed by the president.
Valte said the president himself was for "responsible parenthood" but he would leave it to the legislators to vote on the measure based on their conscience.