A controversial birth control law came into effect in the Philippines Thursday, paving the way for increased sex education and free contraceptives in predominantly Catholic country.

The law came as a historic move in the impoverished country after years of vehement opposition from the Catholic Church, which was against the use of artificial contraceptives promoted by the legislation.

Under the law, government health centers will be required to distribute free condoms and birth control pills in a bid to moderate the nation’s rapid population growth, reduce poverty and curb the high maternal mortality rate.

The measures will benefit the country’s poor who would not otherwise have access to family planning methods, supporters said.

Philippine officials are still working on finer details of the law, including how to allocate funding to different regions and at what age to introduce sex education, AFP reports.

One provision of the law, legalizing post-abortion medical care, is still undergoing special study since abortion remains illegal in the Philippines, says Hazel Chua, an official at the Health Department’s family planning unit.