MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Don’t rewrite legislation.
Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza stood before Supreme Court justices on Tuesday, August 6, asking them to lift the status quo ante order (SQAO) that they issued against the Reproductive Health law.
“Courts must be cautious not to rewrite legislation,” Jardeleza said at the resumption of oral arguments on the RH law.
Jardeleza was the first from the pro-RH bloc to argue for the constitutionality of the law. The petitioners opposed to the law spent the previous two sessions arguing their case.
The petitioners had asked the High Tribunal to stop the law’s implementation, saying it violated constitutional right to life and promotes abortion.
The Supreme Court then issued an SQAO that it extended indefinitely.
READ: Supreme Court RH vote a cliffhanger
It took at least 14 years for lawmakers to finally pass the law, largely because of the Catholic Church’s campaign against it. President Benigno Aquino III signed the law in December 2012.
Jardeleza said the issue is not whether justices should rule on when life begins. The issue is whether Congress can enact laws in the first place, he said.
“The test is not whether Congress is correct but whether it made this judgment without abuse of discretion,” Jardeleza said during questioning by Associate Justice Roberto Abad.
He stressed that the law merely seeks to subsidize legal contraceptives for the poor, claiming this has been available to the rich for a long time.
Jardeleza debunked claims that the law promotes abortion, citing studies made by Filipino experts and the World Health Organization that state that contraceptives are not abortifacient.
Abad: ‘Big trouble’
Justice Abad, however, questioned the impartiality of the WHO because of its stand in favor of population control.
Abad is a known critic of the RH law in the SC. In the last oral arguments, the justice asked a pro-RH lawyer: “Should Congress legislate a measure that will prevent a child through poison?”
READ: RH law allows poison in women’s bodies
On Tuesday, Abad asked Jardeleza: “Don’t you think that if the government can decide on medical and scientific issues, we would be in deep trouble?”
Jardeleza replied, “No, we’re not in trouble.”
Abad insisted: “We will be in big trouble if this law is declared constitutional.” – Rappler.com
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