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Report: Brazil to subsidize birth control pills, despite criticism from the pope

May 30, 2007

From AP:

For years, Brazil’s government has gotten into the Carnival spirit by handing out tens of millions of free condoms on the streets.

Now the world’s largest Roman Catholic country is helping to make birth control pills more affordable, subsidizing a program that will allow people to buy a year’s supply for just $2.40.

Weeks after Pope Benedict XVI used a five-day visit to Brazil to denounce government-backed contraception efforts, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced the new program to give masses of poor Brazilians access to birth control pills that better-off citizens take for granted.

“It gives them the same right that the wealthy have to plan the number of children they want,” Silva told about 150 doctors and women’s rights advocates Monday.

Brazil already hands out free birth control pills at government-run pharmacies. But many poor people in Latin America’s largest country don’t go to those pharmacies, so Silva’s administration decided to offer the pills at drastically reduced prices at private drug stores, said Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao.

Under the new program, anyone can buy the pills by simply showing a government-issued identification card that almost all Brazilians carry. The number of outlets selling the pills will start at 3,500 and is expected to rise to 10,000 by the end of this year.

When the $51 million program is fully under way, the government expects to be handing out 50 million packages of birth control pills each year…

Full report here.

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