Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

The Constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law

January 24, 2013

Let’s begin my birthday with this.

Pretext

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, while in her speech favoring the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, concluded saying: “Nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

And indeed she was right. The RH Bill has now become the RH Law (RA 10354). The law was signed on 12/21/12 (ironic, in a way) and was publicized on the 28th and took effect on the 17th, exactly a week ago. A few days after the publication, a lawyer couple filed a petition on certiorari challenging the constitutionality of the RH Law before the Supreme Court. The SC a week later just rejected the TRO. A low number of petitions were filed after the first petition but a response is still pending and it looks like it isn’t being considered high priority.

Arguments

The RH Law is being challenged strongly based on the gross misinterpretations of certain constitutional amendments, particularly the following:

Preamble – “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”
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Primer on (Book) Legal Issues in Reproductive Rights by Four UP Law Professors

Posted Fri, 12/09/2011

Four professors from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law recently released a “Primer on Legal Issues in Reproductive Rights.” The four are Raul C. Pangalangan, Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. and Florin T. Hilbay. The primer tackles some of the most pressing and controversial legal issues in RH in a direct and simple question-and-answer format, conveniently divided into four areas: constitutional law, family law including women’s and children’s rights, international law, and the internationally protected right to health. Follow this link to read or download the primer.

Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:

DOES THE RH BILL CONFLICT WITH THE STATE POLICY TO “EQUALLY PROTECT THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER AND THE LIFE OF THE UNBORN FROM CONCEPTION”?
Answer: NO. The records of the Constitution Commission that drafted Article II, §12 of the Constitution show that the objective of some of those in favor of that particular provision was to prevent the Supreme Court from deciding in favor of the constitutionality of abortion, as in the case of Roe v. Wade where the U.S. Supreme Court held that a woman has the fundamental right to terminate her pregnancy.
Even assuming the Constitution actually prohibits the passage of an abortion statute, the RH bill would still not pose any constitutional issue. This is because the RH bill does not legalize abortion, as it explicitly states in its consolidated version. The RH bill does not legalize the termination of a pregnancy. What the bill seeks to do is make accessible to poor individuals and couples reproductive health information and contraceptives that are otherwise already available in the private market. The bill is designed to provide a system whereby individuals and couples may, if they choose to, prevent and/or space pregnancies, and does not give them the right to destroy fetuses. If both information and contraceptive devices that are currently available in the market do not violate the Constitution’s so-called anti-abortion policy, the same principle should hold true when the State decides to establish a system in which such information and technology that comes at a cost become free or at least relatively inexpensive.
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Constitution Does Not Prohibit RH Bill — Sen. Santiago

By Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
8:34 pm | Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—There are no impediments to the Senate’s passage of a Reproductive Health bill because the Constitution does not prohibit it.

“The Constitution, directly or indirectly, does not prohibit the RH bill … Since there is no prohibition of an RH bill in our Constitution, it is constitutional for this Senate to pass the bill, until the Supreme Court rules otherwise,” said Senator Miriam Santiago.

The senator delivered the second and third installments of her sponsorship speech on the RH bill Wednesday afternoon. Part one delivered last month focused on the theological explanations in support of the RH bill.

Santiago said the high incidence of poverty and lack of education among most Filipino women make it imperative for lawmakers to craft a law to ensure that their pregnancies occur under healthy circumstances.
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The RH Bill is Constitutional

By: Elizabeth Angsioco
Published in Manila Standard Today
Dated January 22, 2011

Constitutionality is one of the most frequently used arguments against the reproductive health bill. This piece looks at RH-relevant Constitutional provisions and part of the position I articulated in the Senate.

I say: the Philippine Constitution is replete with provisions mandating the government to provide RH services. To cite some:

Art. II, Section 10. The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development”’

Reproductive health promotes social justice by providing access to RH services to poor Filipinos otherwise enjoyed by those with money. Family planning is a glaring example. The rich can pay for contraceptives they want but NOT the poor who likewise want to use them.
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