INQ: SC affirms ruling on RH Law
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court stood pat in its April 2014 decision affirming the constitutionality of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Act of 2012 or the RH Law but declared unconstitutional the penal provisions of the law.
“The Court, with the same unanimous vote as in its Decision promulgated on April 8, 2014, denied all the motions for reconsideration, subject to the same positions indicated by the specific justices on the specific sections declared to be unconstitutional,” high court’s information chief Theodore Te announced at a press conference Tuesday (July 1).
The high court, in its April ruling, backed the whole idea of contraception encompasses the entire RH law, adding removing provisions that refer to contraception or are related to it “loses its very foundation.”
In the long run, the high court said population control may not be beneficial for a developing country like the Philippines.
The high court cited the experience of European and some Asian countries, which are now dealing with the problems of ageing population such as reduced workforce and increased spending for pensions.
The Philippines, on other hand, has a young population. It has nearly 100 million people, a tenth of which are currently working overseas to seek greener pastures.
“And in this country, the economy is being propped up by remittances from our overseas Filipino workers. This is because we have an ample supply of young, able-bodied workers. What would happen if the country would be weighed down by an ageing population and the fewer younger population would not be able to support them? This would be a situation when our fertility rate would go down below the replacement level of two children per woman,” the decision stated.
It also noted that even if population growth is controlled, poverty will persist as long as the country’s wealth remains in the hands of the rich.
“Indeed, at the present, the country has a population problem, but the State should not use coercive measures (like the penal provisions of the RH law against conscientious objectors) to solve it,” the Court said, adding the law is a “mere compilation” of existing measures (Contraceptive Act, Population Act, Magna Carta of Women) sans the coercive provisions.
Among the provisions declared unconstitutional are:
• Section 7 which is about access to family planning, as well as Section A and A of its implementing rules and regulations . Section A requires private health facilities and non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group to refer patients, not in an emergency or life threatening case to another health facility which is conveniently accessible. Section B allows minor-parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardians;
• Section 23 Punishable Acts (a) (1) and corresponding provision in the RH-IRR particularly Section 24 insofar as it punishes any health care provider who fails or refuses to disseminate information regarding programs and services on reproductive health regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
• Section 23 (a)(2)(i) and a provision in the IRR with regard to allowing a married individual, not in an emergency or life –threatening case to undergo reproductive health procedures without the consent of the spouse;
• Section 23(a)(3) and the provision in the IRR which punishes any health care provider who fails and/or refuses to refer a patient not in an emergency or life threatening case to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
• Section 23(b) and the provision in the IRR which 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;
• Section 17 on Pro bono services of indigent women and corresponding provision in the IRR regarding the rendering of pro bono reproductive health service, insofar as they affect the conscientious objector in securing PhilHealth accreditation;
• Section 3.01(a) and (j) of the IRR insofar as it uses the qualifier “primarily” for contravening Section 4(a) of the RH Law specifically the definition of abortifacient and violating Section 12 on right to life and protection of life from conception.
• Section 23 (a)(2)(ii) insofar as it penalizes a health service provider who will require parental consent from the minor ‘
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