"Lawmakers on Monday approved legislation calling for government-funded contraception and sex education classes in the Philippines, a first in the heavily Catholic nation," CNN reports (12/17). The House of Representatives and the Senate ... approved the Reproductive Health (RH) bill on third and final reading, pushing the controversial bill a step closer to being signed into law," the Philippine Star writes (Diola/Cerda, 12/17). "Voting 13-8 with no abstention, the Senate passed the RH bill on third and final reading," Inquirer News notes, adding, "At the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted 133 to 79 with seven abstentions to approve its version of the measure" (Ager/Santos, 12/17).
"The Senate and the House of Representatives passed different versions of the bill, which languished in Congress for more than a decade as legislators avoided colliding with the influential church," the Associated Press writes (Hranjski et al., 12/17). According to the New York Times, "minor differences between the two must be reconciled before the measure goes to [President Benigno Aquino III] for his signature" (Whaley, 12/17). "The bill's passage had been expected by analysts and lawmakers after Aquino certified the bill as 'urgent,' which requires the leadership of both legislative bodies to bring the measure to a vote as quickly as possible," the Financial Times notes (Landingin, 12/17).