THE decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the constitutionality of the controversial Reproductive Health law is an achievement to sectors in favor of the measure but for Sen. Miriam Santiago, the fight is not over yet.
Santiago, the author of Republic Act 10354 or the RH law, expressed confidence that the SC after due consideration could find that the eight provisions that the High Court declared unconstitutional are lawful.
This is why Santiago is urging pro-RH groups to file a motion for reconsideration (MR) after the high court recently upheld the law but struck down eight provisions.
Among the provisions declared unconstitutional by the SC include portions of Section 7 particularly giving minor-parents or minors access to modern methods of family planning without the written consent of their parents or guardians; several provisions in section 23 like allowing a married individual, not in an emergency or life-threatening case to undergo reproductive health procedures without the consent of the spouse; and the one that punishes any public officer who refuses to support reproductive health programs or shall do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program, regardless of his or her religious beliefs.
The lack of sanctions for health workers who refuse to provide the reproductive health (RH) services and commodities such as pills and condoms won’t stop them from complying with the RH law, Health Undersecretary Janette Garin and Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas said.
The RH law mandates the state to provide natural and artificial family planning services to families, including condoms, pills and intrauterine devices. Likewise, it provides optional and age-appropriate sex education.
“Since people are highly aware of the benefits of the RH law, they will be the ones demanding for the RH services. There will be a lot of health workers and providers who will be very willing to comply and support the law, in contrast to the very few who might refuse,” Garin, who stirred the RH bill into passage as an RH bill author and an Iloilo representative in 15th Congress, said in a text message.
The high court also found the rendering of pro bono reproductive health service, insofar as it prevents the conscientious objector from securing Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) accreditation, as unconstitutional.
“I humbly believe that after due consideration, the Supreme Court will find that the presumption of constitutionality in favor of the law, and of good faith in favor of Congress, will be sufficient to convince the Court that all eight provisions are not unconstitutional,” Santiago said.
She maintained that the petitioners who want the implementation of the RH law stopped failed to discharge the burden of proof to overcome the presumption of constitutionality.
Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano, co-author of the law admitted that is satisfied with the decision of the SC on the RH law and even though she found some of the provisions bothering, she still has no plan to call for the filing of an MR.
According to the senator she has yet to read the copy of the SC decision, expected to be released today (Friday), which could provide her a better understanding of the rationale of their court for its decision.
As a lawyer, she said, her automatic reaction to the ruling is to follow her desire to prove the constitutionality of every single provision of the law. However, on a practical level, she believed the decision of the court has preserved the essence of the law.
“The gist of the law has been preserved. The right to reproductive health will be available to the poor so the fact that we were able to preserve that is already okay for me,” she said in an interview with reporters.