BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The Supreme Court upheld Tuesday the constitutionality of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 but nullified some of its provisions.
“The Court, after scrutiny of the various arguments and contentions of the parties…unanimously held that Republic Act No. 10354 is not unconstitutional,” high court’s Information Chief Theodore Te said, announcing a ruling that struck down more than a dozen petitions against Republic Act No. 10354 by church groups.
A total of 14 petitions were filed in the high court and a series of oral arguments was held to determine the constitutionality of the controversial birth control law that supporters said would transform the lives of millions of poor Filipinos, in a stunning defeat for the powerful Catholic Church. [Ha! You think!]
The Supreme Court first stopped the implementation of the law for four months after it took effect on March 18, 2013. It issued a status quo ante order after Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc. and Catholic Church groups questioned the law, saying it violated the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the right to life. Before the four months was over, the Supreme Court extended indefinitely its status quo ante order last July.
The law requires government health centers to hand out free condoms and birth control pills, as well as mandating that sex education be taught in schools.
The law also requires that public health workers receive family planning training, while post abortion medical care is also legalized.
The Catholic Church had until Tuesday led a successful campaign for more than 15 years against any form of family planning laws in the Philippines. [Huh? They forgot the Magna Carta for Women?]
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; [Medical facilities operated by religious groups are free from government coercion to offer artificial contraceptives! And minors who have become parents need parental consent when requesting contraceptives! Boom!]
• 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; [Health workers cannot be forced to violate their religious convictions! Boom!]
• 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; [Ergo, spousal consent is still needed when availing contraceptives! Boom!]
• 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; [If a health worker does not want to violate his religious convictions, you can't force them to! Boom!]
• 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; [this law is really a form of religious discrimination!]
• 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; [health care providers are FORCED to give RH service! Ain't that slavery?]
• 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. [For violating right to life and protection of life from conception! Meaning pills and IUDs are gone! Too bad for RH supporters and funders!]
• Section 23 (a)(2)(ii) insofar as it penalizes a health service provider who will require parental consent from the minor in not emergency or serious situation. [this is a socialist law that is why it is outlawed by the SC!]
The landmark decision of the Supreme Court renders makes the RH Law a funding law and a public information campaign law. All punitive provisions have been stricken out and everything that coerces an individual to practice RH that may violate his religious convictions are gone. And the SC also rules against the use of artificial contraceptives that kill the fertilized ovum...but....it is still under the watch of the FDA which, IMHO, can be biased. Why? Can you still see Chinese medicines being sold? Yeah. That says it.
This law becomes a starting pistol for those who truly value human life from conception to natural death and the traditional family, to go out into the streets, or as Pope Francis put it "to get dirty". It is time to educate and catechize the masses who will be the primary audience of this constitutional law. And add to this the fact that our Catholic schools should stay true to their mandate of transmitting the teachings of the Church to their students and not be a mere venue for "academic freedom and discourse". St. John Paul II cemented the Catholic school's mission in the Apostolic Constitution "Ex corde ecclesiae".
St. Paul reminded Christians that they are meant for battle. He used the imagery of weapons for battle when he reminded the Ephesians about this (cf. Eph. 6:17). We are now to cower into our own hermitage or caves and pursue our own holiness by being fence-sitters and Facebook commentators. Don't just say "Let's pray." Say "Go out!" and "Let's teach and preach!"
"No one lights a candle and puts in under a bushel basket..." Whatever "light" you shine, share it! That is your vocation as a Christian! And the RH Law is one reason for you to go out!
PS: You think this blog is everything I have for the Church? Think again. I spend much of my time signing "papers" for so many...