RH Law: what’s next for pro and anti Factions?
The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday declared that the Reproductive Health (RH) Law is constitutional except for 8 provisions, an announcement that has led both RH supporters and opponents to rejoice.
The RH law’s principal proponents in Congress were ecstatic and did not hide their joy. Principal sponsor Senator Pia Cayetano said ‘This is the first time I can honestly say I love my job!’ She lauded the SC for upholding the law especially since it was aimed for poor women.
‘The SC decision speaks well of our democracy. It tells the whole world that the Filipino women are important in our country.’
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago also could not hide her delight over the ruling, saying ‘Thank you, Supreme Court! I love you, because you have faced the fears of a nation, and swept them away like cobwebs.’ She added that the SC’s decision was a ‘triumph of reason over superstition’ because it was resolved ‘by the force of reason’ and not by ‘armies, patronage or pomp.’
House of Representatives principal author Congressman Edcel Lagman meanwhile said the decision upheld the separation of the church and state and confirms ‘the supremacy of government in non-religious concerns.’
At the other side of the debate, self-styled ‘number one RH rival’ Senator Tito Sotto III said he had been justified by the rejection of the 8 provisions, which he said he had questioned all along. He added that the SC’s decision was not surprising since ‘Constitutional talaga ang ibang provisions noon.’
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also welcomed the announcement, although with displeasure. CBCP President and Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Socrates Villegas said the Church will continue its work ‘even with such unjust laws.’
However, they are happy that the provisions rejected by the SC respected the importance of ‘informed religious conscience’ and the ‘rights of parents to teach their children.’ He is specifically referring to some of the rejected parts that:
- requires religious groups to refer patients to another RH facility
- provides RH services to minors without parental consent
- punishes RH providers who refuse to share information regarding RH programmes
- forbids RH providers to refuse performing RH procedures on minors without parental consent
The archbishop said that the Church will stand by its pro-life stance and ‘safeguard the life of every human person from conception to natural death.’ However, he said the Church is open to unite with ‘our pro-RH brethren… for the good of the country.’
Senator Santiago clarified that the 8 rejected provisions can still be challenged through a motion for reconsideration (MR) that has to be filed within 15 days of the announcement.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the next move now is to ensure the government, through the Department of Health, is able to implement the law to the fullest: ‘Our eyes should be on agencies tasked to implement it … to ensure that the much-needed programmes that prevents maternal deaths and other health complications affecting women, wives and mothers will be put into operation.’
The RH law has taken more than 13 years to pass in Congress.