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When does life begin?

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AA A By Carlos Legaspi Jr. Friday, July 12, 2013 ORAL arguments started Thursday regarding the Republic Act No. 10354 or the Reproductive Health Law or otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. The chief magistrates of the country came out with a hanging question: When does human life begin? The Pro-RH law proponents were very vocal at saying that the country needs the law in order to develop and alleviate poverty. Yet, the Anti-RH Law had been attacked for using an old argument. The Magistrates were left to answer the debated question of the commencement of human life. Now, allow me to air out my opinion and judgment regarding the issue of the start of human life. In our Bioethics class, we were taught that the Human soul is the form of Human life. It is that which gives life to man. Theologically, the soul exists at the meeting of the sperm cell and the egg cell. The union of the two cells is tied up by the spiritual bond, which God injects into the being. Biologically, human life starts at the union of two cells, where the fusion will soon become a human being, thus, by proper deduction, one could already see that human life begins at the union of the cells, the sperm and the egg. These are age old answers to dwindling queries of people who want to make money out of the issue. The Pro-RH accused the Anti-RH of using classical arguments against the law. They believe that the arguments are not only weak but are also old and classic. They say that the Church does not know what they are saying. But we have to bear in mind that the Church does not stand on arguments but it stands on the truth and truth has and had been there since time immemorial. The truth had withstood all forms of arguments that had been presented by many governments. The Pro-RH stance might have gained grounds in many secular societies but now, these societies are suffering much of the effects of the imprudent law. This is the reason why the Catholic Church did not argue more, for the hierarchy believes that the truth will always come out triumphant and the law is not the judge of the truth. The truth of the issue is that the RH Law is the mother of laws that will promote and propagate Divorce, Euthanasia, Abortion, Total population control and homosexual relations. These are the DEATH laws and bill that we will be having after the RH Law. The proponents had been saying that the No-RH Law in the country would result to more birth deaths, promiscuous sex, teen-age pregnancies, early and unplanned marriages and many more family problems. Thus, the RH law proponents had new arguments that would topple down the classic truths. They will surely appeal to the human mind but will always be a scar to the moral conscience of the people who have passed them as laws. We have to stick to the truth and we have to bear the truth. We should not be afraid of popular and flowery arguments. We should never be afraid of the people in authority. We must rather be on the truth and have to accept it. Our prayers for the enlightenment of those who push for the death of the human race. St. Ezekiel Moreno, St.Lorenzo Ruiz, St. Pedro Calungsod, Blessed John Paulo II, Mons. John Su, Sir Faraon Lopez , pray for us all. Amen.

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in a previous decision, the SC has limited the issues to be tackled to four, and these are: whether the law violates the autonomy of local government and equal protection of the law; whether the law violates the natural law and disregards inter-generational responsibility; whether the law violates the rights to life and health; and, whether the RH law violates freedoms of religion, speech, and academic freedom. The Local Government Code (approved way before the RH bill), has all this time contained provisions mandating LGUs to implement family planning programs (one of the most controversial features of the law) for their constituents. How can the RH law then be violative of local autonomy when the very law that created such concept included family planning from the start? The law actually stands on the principle of equal protection. It provides RH information and services to everyone who wants or needs such. There is no compulsion or coercion whatsoever. In fact any form of compulsion or coercion to use or not use the services the law offers is punishable under it. I am guessing that the argument that the RH law violates natural law is because of its contraceptive provisions. Does the natural law state that women should be baby machines without regard for their health and well-being? What about the women who could die (and die) because of complications of high-risk pregnancies that could easily be prevented by using contraceptives? Come to think of it, even the Catholic Church promotes “natural” family planning. However we look at these, they still are family planning methods. Is the RCC then violating natural law? Accusations that the RH law violates the rights to life and health do not hold water. On the contrary, the law promotes these rights through the provision of necessary services. I‟m almost certain that arguments of anti-RH intervenors will center on the rights of the unborn and will conveniently forget that the Constitution provides for the EQUAL protection of mothers‟ lives. If we truly care about our children, the first step is to keep their mothers healthy and alive. As to the freedoms of religion and speech, and academic freedom, the mere fact that pro-RH Catholics and other religions will argue in favor of the law means that they do not see the law as violative of these freedoms. Moreover, any freedom cannot and must not go against the common good. This is the reason why at times, certain freedoms may be limited. The RH law pursues the common good but at the same time does not limit any of these freedoms. Really, all these issues have been repeatedly and extensively discussed, debated, and argued in the House of Representatives, Senate, media, and in public over many years. The then RH bill‟s contents have been put under the microscope, examined and re-examined, and revised many times over before it was put to a final vote. Congress passed the then RH bill with flying colors. The Executive, a co-equal branch of Legislature and Judiciary, stamped it with its seal of approval. Two of the three government branches decided in favor of the RH law. Most importantly, the Filipino people‟s strong support never wavered as evidenced by all surveys conducted by reputable organizations over a period of ten years. The whole country (except the ultra-conservative Catholic hierarchy, its allies and a few Muslim groups) is for the RH law. It should be mentioned that the Muslims have a pro-RH fatwah approved many years

This includes the natural family planning or rhythm method. In the session hall. without even an attempt to substantiate. and the assumption of a sound stand on it could only be attained through a clear and sound understanding of complex scientific data and ultramicroscpoic mechanisms which I myself. would wipe away the Filipino people from the face of the earth. or what fertilization and implantation imply. Purely scientific postulate With all due respect. after being a doctor for 35 years. Just when we thought everything would be smooth sailing after the enactment of the Reproductive Health Law by President Aquino a few days before Christmas. But the issue was the Reproductive Health Law. Inside the Supreme Court. including obstetricians and gynecologists who are supposed to be the experts on conception and pregnancy. and in what could be one swift blow. and should ovulation and fertilization occur. make the cervical mucus so thick that it bars the entry into the uterus of the millions of sperm cells ejaculated after sexual intimacy. What is important is that they are properly informed and educated. the antis were praying the “Hail Mary” in a not -so-solemn tone seemingly to drown the voice of the pro-RH speaker narrating their hardships because of the non-implementation of the law. 15 justices will decide the fate of the RH Law which took our senators and congressmen close to 14 years to deliberate on and pass. he likened the law to genocide which. condoms. and medical experts could reach a consensus on in many forums. but the constitutionality of the RH Law being questioned hinges on a purely scientific postulate. although the pro-lifers among them think it starts with fertilization. dictated upon by no one else and nothing else. one‟s decision to use contraception or not is a purely personal one. The oral arguments on the RH Law were a very serious matter. The intrauterine device (IUD) causes an inflammatory reaction within the female organs and reduces the sperm‟s ability to fertilize. and did not disappoint — in entertainment value. the venue of the debates is not in the plenary halls of Congress or the Senate but in the august halls of the Supreme Court. the raging debates have reemerged and it seems. First was former Senator Francisco Tatad who stressed his position that the RH Law is a population control measure. morally and ethically correct. Passions ran high. The clowns were in full force. won a temporary victory when the Supreme Court issued on March 19 a status quo ante order. It could only come from one arrogant enough to consider himself so important to be able to say anything and everything in the Supreme Court of the land! He claimed. pro-life groups believe that pregnancy begins with fertilization. We trust that the Justices will side with the people on this one. we‟re back to square 1.before the RH bill was passed! This was the reason why most Muslim legislators voted in favor of the measure. DEADMA. The pros came with placards of stories and pictures of women and their families suffering from lack of access to needed RH services. In his impassioned. the use of contraceptives which can prevent both fertilization and implantation. and let life be as enlightened couples believe and wish it to be. Fact is. And if only for this purpose of equipping women and couples with whatever information they need to know to arrive at a sound decision whether to use contraception or not. This statement. It was a face-off between the pro. Let it be. This being so. or is it at the time of implantation on the mother‟s womb?” From this basic question arises the other contentious issues: “Are contraceptives abortifacients?” and “Are we violating the right to life mandated in our constitution?” Our Supreme Court justices are supposed to give an expert opinion on this basic question of when life starts. except by her conscience. He deserved it. The majority of these experts believe life begins during implantation. bombastic manner. and preventing its implantation on the womb is already considered abortive. After the law has been passed last December. At one point. She was supposed to show that the RH Law is unconstitutional because it violates the right to life. fertilization happens first followed by implantation when favorable factors are present in the womb. Let not our justices be overwhelmed by contentious issues on saving sperms and ovums.and anti-RH Law at the gates of the Supreme Court. our justices may indeed be scholars of the law. and the antis were armed with rosaries and prayers. Some birth control methods prevent fertilization but not implantation. Lawyer Concepcion Noche was next. preventing the government from implementing the law for 120 days starting March 30. I cringed. If only this was just a show. and should it occur. with some of them allowing fertilization but preventing implantation. the Court‟s decision would affect millions of lives. a question which not even the most scholarly of scientists. Experts’ stand Various medical and scientific communities. they also prevent implantation. Noche was there to champion the right to life ONLY of the . that one law has the power to annihilate our entire nation. Since even scholars and experts are divided on which postulate is scientifically. The same arguments pro and against the RH Law have been resurrected and it revolves around the question: “When does life really begin? Is it from the time of fertilization when the sperm „meets‟ the female‟s ovum or egg and they fuse as one cell. still find difficult to fully understand. whatever decision a couple makes should be based on their personal beliefs and conviction —with no one forcing a them what to do. This is no small decision. have made their stand on this issue. biologists. On the other hand. the site of implantation in the uterine wall is not conducive to allow implantation. There should be no question about aborting life with these methods since neither fertilization nor implantation has occurred. armed with 15 anti-RH petitions. It was the anti-RH petitioners‟ turn to speak and answer questions from the Justices. we should give the RH Law the break it deserves. The majority in fact because the RH law was primarily passed for the Filipino women and youth. Uphold the RH law. fizzled. The Justices totally ignored Tata d‟s speech. cervical cap and spermicide agents. Other birth control methods target both fertilization and implantation. the oral arguments were ongoing. May they focus on the question of “when life starts” as the ordinary unschooled woman sees it to be. At the end of the day. perhaps meant as bomb of sorts. After sexual intimacy. the law‟s critics. The carnival went to the High Court. according to him. The Supreme Court is about to make a decision that will surely affect the lives of millions of Filipinos. and the Justices were not smiling. Saying such was the height of irresponsibility and absurdity. There are so-called hormonal IUDs and other forms of hormonal contraception that prevent ovulation. is not abortive. before making the decision. This time. diaphragm. and they state that pregnancy begins with implantation. I would have laughed.

Noche answered that they no longer need to go to FDA because there are materials that support their position that contraceptives are abortifacient. To me. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). MANILA. In the unlikely event that there is time. She asked Noche if the CJ would be violating the Constitution if she would advise the clerk to do family planning. violates the Constitution. Justice Carpio chided and told her to focus on the law‟s actual text. many pro-life groups vowed that passing the law could signal the country’s transition to legalized abortion.At the height of the debates surrounding the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RH law). thousands of women every year choose to terminate their pregnancy.” Statistics on induced abortion in the Philippines. we are hoping that the SQAO will not be extended. however. Noche was totally grilled by the Justices. When the Noche tried to impute something that was not in the law. The mothers who give life to all unborn seem to be of no importance to this woman lawyer. in such cases. While some of the SC members showed certain bias for the law. I almost fell from my chair! What kind of a person. Expect this process to go on for some time. The SC oral arguments are far from over. not even a complete provision of the Constitution. the CJ and these women are violating the Constitution. She asked if the Constitution is violated when women with health problems resort to using contraceptives to protect their well-being. the provision is saying a lot more and reminded Noche about the equal protection accorded by the Constitution to the life of the mother and the unborn. She even added that no woman should put the unborn at risk of any danger. Justice Marvic Leonen for his part asserted that laws passed by Congress enjoy the presumption of constitutionality. the effectivity of the status quo ante order that postponed the RH l aw‟s implementation will lapse on July 16. Recent estimates . the implementation can begin while the SC continues its process of hearing more absurd arguments against the RH law. Unlike Tatad who was not asked even one question. On July 23. She equated conception with fertilization (the meeting of sperm and egg cells) and concluded that contraceptives cause abortion because they prevent fertilization. with most of these procedures being performed unsafely. Philippines . she said. He also said that Noche was jumping the gun for going to the SC without bothering to first have the Food and Drug Administration test the contraceptives she complains about. In the meantime. After which. and that the RH law is totally unconstitutional. for instance. CJ Serreno told Noche point blank that she is asking the SC to decide based on just a PHRASE. This EQUAL PROTECTION part seems to be conveniently forgotten by the anti-RH camp. the CJ asked her to read the whole provision. RH advocates have been saying that the provision is not only about the unborn.unborn and no one else. it was also obvious that a few others were on the side of the petitioners. Justice Leonen told Noche that the SC is not a political organ but a court of law. paint a different reality. Armed with generalizations such as all hormonal contraceptives are abortifacient. the CJ stressed that in reality. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno narrated the story of a lowly paid clerk in the SC whose work performance was suffering because she has too many children and life is difficult. that the unborn cannot be put to risk at all times. Mothers cannot continue to die of maternal complications and young people cannot remain ignorant about RH and sexuality just because oppositors of the law do not run out of absurdities in defending their position. Justice Antonio Carpio pointed out the consistency of the law‟s text with the Constitution. warned t he public that a“contraceptive mentality” preceded “abortion mentality. This way. the pro-RH will have their turn. this is most absurd. would say that women‟s lives are not as important as the unborn? This absurdity means that the millions of Filipino women who are on contraceptives are criminals. For the longest time. How the Justices tackled Noche‟s position was interesting. a woman at that. the anti-RH group continues. RH advocates should continue to do hard work to show the law‟s importance particularly to Filipino women and youth. When Noche mentioned only the specific phrase. CJ Sereno directed Noche to read from the Constitution the actual provision on the protection of the right to life of the unborn. Noche struggled with her answer but still said that yes. I take refuge in the fact that the country does not have the facilities to jail all these women. to decide on the beginning of life! Noche repeatedly harped on the Constitution‟s provision protecting the right to life of the unborn from conception. Noche was actually asking the Supreme Court (notwithstanding the facts that none of the Justices is a medical doctor and that the medical world is unable to reach a consensus on the issue). Noche asserted that they do not trust that Congress is the correct body to address their concerns. This. Although induced or elective abortion has never been legal in the country. He asked if what Noche wanted was for the fifteen unelected members of the Court to overturn what was approved by the popularly elected members of Congress and the Executive. Certainly.

.000 women seek post abortion care in a medical facility and 800 to 1.000 in that year alone.000 induced abortions were performed in the Philippines in 2000.Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and the University of the Philippines Population Institute estimated that over 470. Women.000 Filipino women die of abortion complications. insertion of objects (such as catheters. and that 70% have some high school education. Researchers have also shown that 90% of the women who have abortions are Catholic. Post-abortion complications Based on Guttmacher Institute’s estimates. according to a study. is also commonly used to induce abortion. a drug used to prevent stomach ulcers. they argue. This is equal to 1.000 women. hospitalization numbers alone do not capture the magnitude of induced abortions in the country. Not just an access issue This high number of abortion-related hospitalizations and deaths is due largely to the unsafe methods that women resort to. poor women are also more likely to have unsafe abortions compared to their richer counterparts. Only a third of Filipino women receive a dilation and evacuation or vacuum aspiration.000 women respectively. it is believed that 22% and 24% of married and single women respectively have an unmet need for contraception. and jumping from high places. Others also try to induce abortions by hitting their bellies. at any given year. A direct consequence of this is that almost half of pregnancies among Filipino women 15-45 years of age are considered unintended. Although women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds have induced abortions. This means that these women do not want to have a child but have no access to modern contraception. women employ a variety of methods to induce abortion. According to the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. Cytotec. Metro Manila has the highest rate at 52 per 1. This argument is backed up by research in the Philippines and other countries that show the primary reason for having an abortion is economic (and not the stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.000. more than 78. abdominal massage (hilot). and ingesting Vino de Quina and other liquors. In 2010. Core issue: unintended pregnancy Who are having abortions? Experts in the field of reproductive health stress that unintended or unwanted pregnancies lie at the heart of high abortion rates. This raised the estimated incidence of induced abortions to 560. Though the unmet need for contraception largely contributes to the high abortion rate.000. are only pushed to induce abortions because they cannot bear the cost of raising a child. This estimate was based mainly on patient records indicating post-abortion care from over 1. Some women resort to plant and herbal concoctions ( pamparegla). the number of hospitalizations due to abortion complications was projected at 90. But because not all women need or successfully obtain treatment after an abortion. exercising intensively. And because abortion is illegal in the Philippines under Section 2 of the Revised Penal Code. more poor women (68%) choose to have this procedure compared to non-poor women (32%). There are also regional differences in abortion rates.3 million unplanned births every year. Women who already have children and wish to limit the size of their family or space their children’s births grapple with this choice more intently. And because safe surgical abortions can cost as much as P15. as we are inclined to think). This figure is almost double the national average. which are the medically prescribed procedures for terminating a pregnancy. hangers. and brooms) in the vagina.000 women. while Mindanao and Visayas have a similar rate of 18 and 17 per 1.000 hospitals nationwide. experts admit that the issue is not quite simple. This translates to almost a third of women aged 15 to 44 choosing to have an abortion after getting pregnant. clinicians deny and sometimes even scorn those who request for a safe abortion. In the Philippines. The rest of Luzon has a rate of 27 per 1.

In your situation.Research from other countries has shown that access to contraceptives alone does not lower high abortion rates. for instance. We are your quiet supporters. who studied public health at Santa Clara University. They would raise their voices on issues that would compromise Catholic values.” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said Villegas was “a good choice” because he was articulate and prudent with his statements.” Former CBCP president Archbishop of Jaro. “It was unexpected. we did n’t have to explain ourselves. The researchers explained that many women still refused to use modern methods (non-use) or used contraception improperly (contraceptive failure). Cardinal Sin. which contributed to the high abortion rate. “I pray that he would have the fighting spirit of his mentor. With his talent.com Anton Avanceña currently works for the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department and volunteers as an HIV test counselor at the UCSF Alliance Health Project. It would be better for the people if the relationship would be a bit more warm. who is against the Reproductive Health (RH) law. He is very capable. Iloilo Angel Lagdameo hopes that the 52-year-old Villegas would have the spunk of his mentor.” CBCP Public Affairs Committee chairman retired Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said: “I am happy that Archbishop Villegas was elected as president of the CBCP. There is also a cultural preference in Vietnam for sons over daughters. 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica .” he said. This may be equally compelling for the Philippines. We want to say things you don’t want to hear because we want you to avoid mistakes.Rappler. reports that high contraceptive use in Vietnam did not translate directly to lower abortion rates. where 40% of women report fears or health concerns about contraceptive methods. IUDs. Villegas believes his youth and lack of experience make him unsuitable for the position. “We told him we are friends of your mother.” . you will have people whispering nice things to you.” he said. “I am happy that we in the CBCP elected him. it is as if that God has spoken to me and so I just have to listen. Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Socrates Villegas. condoms.” Valte said. amid the contentious debates on the RH bill. researchers stress the importance of education about the proper use of pills. “We look forward to future engagements under his leadership.” Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said: “We are happy about Archbishop Soc’s election as CBCP president. experience he would be able to continue the leadership of his predecessors. But we are your friends. not immediately. His capability and pastoral experience are his assets. Anton. ARCHBISHOP SOCRATES VILLEGAS MANILA. Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos has “high hopes for his leadership. he said.” However. . July 9. open and trusting. because she always looked at us as friendly critics. and other methods. the late Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin. he added. San Francisco in September. The trust shown by the bishops is pillar for this new mandate. Or at least. “We extend our congratulations to Archbishop Villegas and wish him well as he faces new challenges as president of the CBCP. Thus. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday Malacañang wanted to continue working with the CBCP on various advocacies with Villegas as head.Malacañang wants to have a good relationship with the new Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president. he and Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes asked for an audience with Aquino. In the case of Tita Cory. for the good of both the Church and the country. The author wishes to thank Rubina Hussain of Guttmacher Institute for explaining the findings of her work for this article. will begin graduate studies in global health at the University of California. So we explained ourselves and he was very grateful.” he said. A recent paper by the Population Council. “He accommodated us. along with access to contraception. Villegas said last year.” Villegas has been quoted as saying that the relationship between the Catholic Church and President Aquino was “far from ideal. “But then when the bishops speak.

m.12:00am MANILA. just the same way as he was when he came to Pangasinan as our archbishop. said at least five bishops will attend the Mass. anti-RH law advocates face off today By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 9.” Sen.” he said.” Villegas said today’s activities was not a rally but a prayer vigil. Gina de Venecia said: “His impressive pastoral works in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan where he has been moving the faithful to ethical and spiritual renewal are a testament of his inspired leadership that will further boost the CBCP’s status as the country’s strongest moral voice. including himself and Archbishop of Pampanga Paciano Aniceto.” he said. I think the bishop will make a good CBCP president. In a statement following the 107th plenary assembly.Critics and advocates of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act will finally face off today in a debate before the Supreme Court (SC) on the legality of the controversial law. There is certain level of openness to collaborate with other sectors. “We should see how principles of common good and stewardship are to be better imparted to our people in our political education. CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action. today hours before the Supreme Court begins oral arguments on the Reproductive Health Law. “We bishops are dismayed at the massive vote buying and vote selling that is experienced everywhere. You know.” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. especially for one directly associated with the people of Pangasinan. For the Catholic Church. what is important is that you are able to communicate.” he said. . The bishops said a Mass will be held at 9 a.. said the election of Villegas as CBCP president is another remarkable leadership ascendancy of an official of the Catholic Church. “I think the role of the Church is. Amado Espino Jr.” he said.. 2013 .” he said.” Pangasinan Gov. being president is to follow the 120 bishops and that is a very difficult (task). I think Bishop Soc can do that very well. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr. “The mission of the Church is truly spiritual so if we get involved in bills like the RH bill. Antipolo Bishop Reyes.” Pangasinan Rep.“Being president is not about leading. it is because our spiritual mission mandates us to do that. but we cannot mention their arguments because that would be sub judice.” Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez said: “Father Soc’s very inspiring way of shepherding the Catholic faithful in our archdiocese will surely be spread around the country with his new mission. to effectively communicate their position on is sues. Reyes said lawyers opposing the RH law in the debates attended a Mass at the CBCP Plenary Assembly yesterday. “I congratulate him for his new post. “We call for accountability from Comelec officials and demand that the law be followed. Vice Gov. Eva Visperas Pro.. “The lawyers would say that some of the provisions of the RH law are against the Constitution. they would go to the SC. Justice and Peace chairman. CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman. at the Ermita Church.m.Christina Mendez. “That is why Bishop Reyes was very careful to call it a Mass and a vigil at the Ermita Catholic Church. – With Evelyn Macairan. said: “His entry at the helm of the CBCP is a breath of fresh air. In a statement read by CBCP secretary-general Monsignor Joselito Asis. the Nuestra Señora de Guia. Some of us bishops would be at the SC hall to observe the oral arguments.. “Some bishops would be there and the lay people who would keep vigil at the SC around 1:30 p. Paulo Benigno Aquino IV is confident that Villegas would foster better communication between the Catholic Church and the government. or 2 p. the bishops expressed dismay over the outcome of the midterm polls. the bishops said: “After one experience of the automated election this year’s election should have been better. said the Comelec could demonstrate its accountability by listening to the complaints and answering them.” CBCP calls for accountability The CBCP called yesterday for accountability from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the continued reports of vote-buying and vote-selling and other problems during the polls last May. which is the nearest church to the SC. “We prayed for them that they would be guided by the Holy Spirit and that our SC justices would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Philippines .m. but it was not. which is now a law. whether you agree on certain matters or not.

” . Expedito Bugarin. author of the law in the House of Representatives. Reynaldo Echavez. on the other hand.. train village health workers in promoting reproductive health. will tackle how the law allegedly violates the right to religion. (ALFI). They are former Akbayan party-list Rep. Tatad.. They said the RH law does not violate the constitutional freedom of choice and right to privacy.. which states: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. and prioritizes the poor in the provisions of reproductive health care. the Catholics for Reproductive Health and Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood Inc. and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. which allow couples to choose to suppress life. the magistrates led by Chief Justice Ma. violate this constitutional provision. will also face the justices of the SC to present arguments to prove that the law violates the autonomy of local governments and the equal protection clause under Article III Section 1 of the Constitution. Eduardo Olaguer of the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines. The petitioners argued that the RH law “negates and frustrates the foundational ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people as enshrined in the Constitution. Pimentel will also contest portions of the law that limit free services to indigent women to reproductive health care providers only. Lourdes Sereno would interpellate each counsel. Fenny. argued that the constitutional rights of couples would not be violated since they are not being compelled by the new law.” Lastly. the respondents will be allowed to argue why the law is constitutional.. Edcel Lagman. After all counsels for the petitioners have spoken. sponsor of the measure in the Senate.” They cited Article II Section 12 of the Constitution. Millenium Saint Foundation Inc. and Francisco Tatad – will lead the petitioners in challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act 10354. a group of doctors represented by lawyer Howard Calleja. Under the guidelines released by the SC last week. Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians Inc. Pimentel. right to free speech. Tatad and his wife Ma. was tasked to give a five-minute statement for the 15 groups that have asked the high court to strike down the law for allegedly violating the fundamental freedom of religion and expression at the start of oral arguments. Catholic lay group Couples For Christ Foundation (CFC). Another lawyer arguing against the law is Maria Concepcion Noche. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of government. The SC issued last March 19 a 120-day status quo ante order enjoining the government from implementing the assailed law. midwives. remove barriers to reproductive health services for persons with disabilities. adults are still free to reject information relating to reproductive health provided by the government “for whatever personal reason which may or may not be related to their religious beliefs. who was senator from 1992 to 2001. If the debate does not end today. and “proscription on involuntary servitude. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Named respondents in the petitions were Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr.Two former senators – Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Albay Rep.. who will try to convince the magistrates that the law violates the constitutional right to life and right to health. Luis Gana is tasked to tackle how the law violates the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. academic freedom. information and supplies. The 15 consolidated petitions were filed by couple James and Lovely-Ann Imbong. and Almarim Centi Tillah and Abdul Hussein Kashim. The pro-RH groups further stressed that under the law. The intervenors. Health Secretary Enrique Ona. the group of 2005 Bar topnotcher Joan de Venecia. and lead a nationwide multimedia-campaign to raise awareness on reproductive health. Sen. Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc. a group of Catholic students represented by the legal office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.Risa Hontiveros. Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City. on the other hand. a former Senate president and acknowledged as the father of the Local Government Code. Jaime Galvez-Tan and Alberto Romualdez Jr. and other skilled health workers. the SC advisory added. He is expected to assail portions of the law that tasks the local government units (LGUs) to hire nurses. Education Secretary Armin Luistro.. former health secretaries Esperanza Cabral. Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc. The six intervenors in the case will then present their arguments in support of the RH law. Pia Cayetano. non-profit group Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. Luisito Liban..” Petitioners said at least 11 provisions in RA 10354. it would continue in another oral argument on July 23.

The RH Law does not violate the “one title. Whether Section 17 of the RH Law in unconstitutional. Whether Section 3(H) of the RH Law which takes into consideration the State’s obligation under various human rights instruments. Article XIII of the Constitution on the State’s duty to adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development. c. Petitioners do not have standing to question the constitutionality of the RH Law. For violating the right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs affecting them under Section 3(4). Whether Section 2. For violating the prohibition against involuntary servitude under Section 18 (2). (2) “the legislature. 4.OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL CONSOLIDATED COMMENT On May 09. e. Article XIV of the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution a. For violating Section 11. constitute an undue delegation of legislative powers to the FDA. . For violating the right to health under Section 15. over which the Supreme Court has no original jurisdiction. The RH Law promotes access to contraceptives and not abortifacients. effectuated the constitutional prohibition against abortion. Whether the allegations in the petitions are sufficient to trigger the Honorable Court’s Certiorari jurisdiction and judicial review powers. That a contraceptive is not an abortifacient is a legislative determination that is entitled to judicial deference. Article XV of the Constitution. (and) intrauterine devices” has made a legislative finding of fact that contraceptives and IUDs are “safe” and “non -abortifacient”. In defining abortifacients. 2. Jurisdictional and Prudential a. For violating the right to protection against hazardous products under Section 9. 3. b. 2013. Article XII of the Constitution. Emergency contraceptive pills or abortifacients may be allowed only for therapeutic purposes and not for the purpose of inducing abortion a. Whether Sections 23(A)(1) and 23 (B) and 24 of the RH Law are unconstitutional for violating the right to free speech and expression under Section 4. The Constitutional intent is to prohibit the passage of an abortion statute. The OSG argues that the petitions must fail both on jurisdictional and prudential considerations. Article VI of the Constitution. The petitions actually seek declaratory relief. a. For violating the equal protection clause. Article II of the Constitution. Whether Section 14 of the RH Law. This finding. and 24 of the RH Law are unconstitutional for violating the right to free exercise of religion under section 5. Article II of the Constitution.one subject” rule under Section 26 (1). 8. For violating the right to life as provided for under Section 12. A facial attack against the RH Law is not appropriate. Substantive Issues 1. For violating the right of educational institutions to self-determination under Section 4(1). in providing that the National Drug Formulary shall include “hormonal contraceptives. the OSG submits that the Supreme Court decline exercising jurisdiction over the petitions. filed its Consolidated Comment on the petitions assailing the RH Law. 9 and 19(C) of the RH Law.17. Article II of the Constitution which provides for the adoption of the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. B. the OSG sets forth the following arguments: 1. 3(E). 23 (A)(3). 2. is presumed to be constitutional”. To support the contention that the petitions must be denied. Article II of the Constitution. The RH Law is the product of a robust. Article III of the Constitution and for violating the void for vagueness doctrine. Whether Sections 7. Article II of the Constitution. 4(L). b. Whether Section 9 of the RH Law is unconstitutional. b. not to prohibit contraception. the legislature implements the constitutional intent to protect life “from inception” . The RH Law is a social welfare legislation that has deep and plural constitutional grounding. b. Because of the aforementioned reasons. and “ (3) the Congress. 5.23 (A)(1). d. in enacting the RH Law. The OSG put forth the following issues: A. 4. Whether there is a necessity for the RH Law considering that there are other laws on Reproductive Health. the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). 7. as (1) “an act of the legislature approved by the executive. The RH Law does not violate the right to life provision under Section 12. transparent and participative democratic process involving the elected branches of government. as counsel for the Respondents. 23(B). For violating the regulation and prohibition of monopolies under Section 19. which provides for mandatory reproductive health education is unconstitutional For violating the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character under Section 12. 3. c. Article III of the Constitution by compelling certain acts that may be contrary to petitioners’ religious convictions. vesting the food and drug administration (FDA) with the authority and power to evaluate. 6. supported in the legislative records by evidence-based medical and scientific testimony is entitled to great weight and deference by the Supreme Court”. register and cover health services and methods. Article XVI of the Constitution. Whether contraceptives violate natural law. violates Section 2. 15.

The RH Law does not violate petitioners’ religious freedom under Section 5. through the OSG. The RH Law promotes. nor the right to protection against hazardous products in Section 9. Article III of the 1987 Constitution is a protection against dogmatic compulsion and not a shield against civic obligations. 17. The RH Law does not restrict poor couples or women from having children. The prohibited acts defined in Section 23 (a)(1) are within the valid exercise of the State’s police power and are outside the realm of the religion clause. e. c. The RH Law provides rigid requirements before nurses and midwives are allowed to administer life-saving drugs. 16. When the Legislature enacts laws. The prohibition in Section 23 (A) (1) of the RH Law is against prohibited conduct. 13. courts c. Section 14 of the RH Law does not violate the right of educational institutions to selfdetermination under Section 4(1). the petitioners’ prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Wirt of preliminary Injunction finds no basis. f. which exclusively lies within the province of the Legislature. A facial challenge in the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law. 10. There is no violation of the non-establishment of religion clause. . 11. Section 17 of the RH Law does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution The enactment of the RH Law is a policy determination involving the wisdom of the law. It is also outweighed by the compelling interest of the State. 14. The RH Law recognizes and accommodates a person’s right to his religion.9. cannot strike it down as unconstitutional on the mere ground that there is no economic or social justification for its enactment. will not prosper. Hence. protects and enhances the people’s rights to health. particularly of mothers and infants. The Respondents. 12. does not violate the prohibition against involuntary servitude under Article III. Section 15 promotes informed choice. Article II. The requirement to immediately refer a person to another health facility and health care provider does not offend religious freedom. Article Xiv of the Constitution. a. Article III of the Constitution. 15. There was a valid delegation of powers to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). The principles enumerated in Section 3(h) are not blanket applications of human rights instruments inconsistent with the Constitution. The RH Law does not violate the right to health provision under Section 15. pray that the consolidated petitions be denied for lack of merit. b. a. Whatever burden imposed in Section 23 (3) (b) on a public official’s free exercise of his or her religious belief is justified. Section 14 does not inhibit the parents’ rights to rear their children according to their religious beliefs. Section 17 of the RH Law. g. not speech. thus may not be validly used to justify a claim of religious liberty. Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Article XVI of the Constitution. Section 18(2) of the 1987 Constitution. 19. Section 5. Article XII of the Constitution. The OSG states that the “petitioners failed to satisfy the minimum legal requisites for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction” as there is “no material and substantial invasion of petitioners’ rights such that they will suffer from irreparable injury”’ and “neither have petitioners established a paramount necessity to protect their rights from the implementation of the law”. 18. b. a. Section 23(A)(1) of the RH Law does not violate the freedom of expression under Section 4. specifically Section 23 (A)(1) and Section 24 thereof. it does not inhibit the free exercise of couples’ religious beliefs. d. The RH Law does not violate natural law. Section 9 of the RH Law does not violate the regulation and prohibition of monopolies under Section 19. d.