The Senate and the House of Representatives separately approved the Reproductive Health Bill on its final reading on December 17, marking a momentous triumph for the bill’s many supporters. reports that Senate voted 13-8 in favor of the bill, with Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Francis Pangilinan, and Ralph Recto backing the measure. Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, Senators Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Bong Revilla, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar voted against it. Senators Manuel “Lito” Lapid and Sergio Osmeña III were absent during the proceedings.

In the lower house, 133 representatives voted in favor of the bill--a noticeable increase from the 113 who approved of it during its second reading on December 13. 79 voted against the bill, while seven abstained.

The next step for the bill is the merging of the Senate and House versions of the bill in a bicameral conference committee. Both chambers of congress will also have to ratify the consolidated version first before President Benigno Aquino III signs it into law.

President Aquino had pushed hard for the passage of the bill, which is one of his priority measures, despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

“The people now have the government on their side as they raise their families in a manner that is just and empowered,” Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying. “It begins a process of healing for the wounds that may have been opened by an often feisty democracy.”

(Photo by s_falkow via Flickr Creative Commons)

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