BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) unanimously declared the Reproductive Health (RH) law constitutional but struck down 8 provisions partially or in full.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said in a press briefing on Tuesday, April 8: “The RH law is not unconsitutional.”
An SC insider said the “core provisions were upheld.”
Te explained to reporters later that all the justices considered the basic law consitutional “except those provisions they declared unconstitutional.”
The following are the 8 provisions struck down in full or partially:
1.) Section 7, only insofar as it: (a) requires private health facilities and non-maternity hospitals owned by religious groups to refer patients not in an emergency or life-threatening situation to another health facility which is conveniently accessible (b) provides access to family planning and RH services to minors who have been pregnant or had a miscarriage without a parental consent
The rest of Section 7, however, which provides access to family planning, was upheld by the Court, notably this line: “All accredited public health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, which shall also include medical consultations, supplies and necessary and reasonable procedures for poor and marginalized couples having infertility issues who desire to have children.”
2.) Section 23-A-1, which punishes RH providers regardless of their religious belief who fail or refuse to dissiminate information regarding RH services and programs
3.) Section 23-A-2-i, which allows a married individual not in a life-threatening case to access RH procedures without the consent of the spouse
4.) Section 23-A-3, insofar as it punishes an RH provider who fails to refer any non-life-threatening case to another RH provider
5.) Section 23-B, insofar as it punishes any public officer who refuses to support RH programs
6.) Section 17, which mandates a 40-hour pro bono service by private and nongovernment RH service providers including gynecologists and obstetricians as a prerequisite for PhilHealth accreditation
7.) Section 3.01-A and J of the RH law Implementing Rules and Regulations, which defines abortifacients as “primarily” inducing abortion instead of simly inducing abortion
8.) Section 23-A-2-ii, which prohibits RH service providers from refusing to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on minors without parental consent
15 days to appeal
The RH law – which took 13 years and 4 months to pass in Congress –was temporarily halted by the Supreme Court (SC) on March 19, 2013, following the filing of 14 petitions questioning its constitutionality. (READ: RH law: The long and tough road)
The petitioners have 15 days to appeal the decision, Te said.
Not necessarily defeated
Father Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said he does not consider the SC decision a defeat for the “pro-life” camp.
"When we remember the Lord, when he suffered and died, before the human courts, he lost. Before the public opinion, they were crying out crucify him. And the Lord said, followers would suffer just as he did. We’re prepared to suffer. We’re very much prepared to suffer… What matters is to teach what is true and good," he said in an interview. – Rappler.com
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