This segment originally aired Feb. 17, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
In the heavily Catholic nation of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is fighting the Church on two fronts. On one hand, the clergy recently condemned Duterte’s widely publicized war on drugs, which has left thousands dead since his election in June. On the other, an executive order mandating access to reproductive healthcare and sexual education has triggered a second wave of opposition from the Church and conservatives.
The legislation, initially enacted in 2012, aims to provide free contraceptives to the country’s 100 million people. By making birth control and other family planning methods readily available, the government hopes to decrease the country’s rising poverty rates. The Philippines is also one of the few countries seeing an increase in teen pregnancy.
“Family planning is very important here in the Philippines because mothers here have five babies, six babies, sometimes 13 babies,” said John Paul Domingo, a registered nurse at a Manila maternity ward, one of the busiest in the world.
VICE News correspondent Seb Walker met with those most affected by the executive order — the desperately poor. He also spoke with those advocating on their behalf and fighting the government order.