THE Supreme Court (SC) en banc has ruled with finality that the Reproductive Health (RH) Law is constitutional but declared some provisions unconstitutional.
On April 8, the SC magistrates declared as legal salient features of the controversial law under Republic Act (RA) 10354 with some exceptions particularly under Sections 7, 17 and 23. Section 3 was an additional provision that was declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
The recent ruling, penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, resolved and “denied all motions for reconsideration subject to the same position indicated by the specific justices on the specific section declared to be unconstitutional.”
It said the “principle of no-abortion and non-coercion in the adoption of any family planning method” under the law should be maintained.
The court disagreed with petitioners’ contention that the RH Law intrudes into marital privacy and autonomy.
It ruled that health workers cannot be forced to do a procedure if it is against their religious beliefs and the only exception would be when the life of the mother and the child is threatened.
Family planning, according to the ruling, shall be a private matter that will be decided by both spouses as a constitutionally guaranteed right.
In its April 8 decision, the court unanimously held that RA 10354 is constitutional except two sections.
It declared Section 7 illegal for requiring private health facilities and hospitals owned by a religious organization to refer their patients to another hospital and also for allowing minors who have suffered miscarriage to have contraceptives without written permission of their parents.
Also declared illegal by the tribunal was Section 17 in connection with “the rendering of pro bono reproductive health service in so far as they affect the conscientious objector in securing PhilHealth accreditation.”
James and Lovely Imbong, in their 25-page petition for certiorari, argued that the law violates the 1987 Constitution, which, among others, upholds the ideal of an unconditional respect.
On behalf of their minor children and the Magnificat Child Development Center, the couple filed the petition with the High Court, impleading Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Meanwhile, a pro-life group has taken issue with the Department of Health over a television advertisement from the department where a child sings a nursery rhyme about a family who suffers from poverty because the child’s parents failed to practice “family planning.”
In a statement posted on its website, Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc. said the advertisement “is peddling the same anti-poor programs that will make the poor even poorer in the next few years.”
The group added that “there’s really nothing wrong per se in spacing and planning one’s family, but to equate it with poverty, and push the contraceptive mentality, buttressing it with claims that failure to plan one’s family results in poverty . . . [is]wrong.”
Instead of promoting family planning, it said the government should instead promote to “postpone” siring of children.
The foundation cited data from the National Statistics Office from 1960 to 2010 showing that population growth “clearly [went]down.”