More Catholic than the Pope? Manila Suburb Cracks Down on Condom

If you live in Alabang and want to have safer sex, you’re going to need a doctor’s note. That’s because the wealthy Manila suburb has made prophylactics prescription-only. The local council says they wanted to discourage sex outside of marriage. They also wanted to stir debate about the morality birth control as the nation mulls its first-ever family planning bill. If that bill passes, the ordinance would be rendered null. For now, though, locals must heed the council’s dictum, or face the consequences: violators face up to six months in jail.

It’s not the first time this majority-Catholic country has cracked down on condoms. In 2008, I reported from Manila on an executive order that effectively banned birth control from city-funded clinics. The policy, implemented in 2000 by then-Mayor Lito Atienza, led to an increase in unwanted and unsafe pregnancies and further stigmatized family planning.

In many ways, the Alabang ordinance, like the Manila ban before it, has become a proxy for the country’s decades-old birth control battle:

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