MANILA, Philippines – The provisions struck down by the Supreme Court do not water down the entire reproductive health (RH) law.
This is according to former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives who pushed for the passage of the RH law in the lower chamber during the 15th Congress.
“Although we wanted the entirety of the RH law to be declared constitutional, the few provisions whose constitutionality was not upheld will not diminish the efficacy of the law and deter its full implementation,” said former Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, principal author of the RH law in the House.
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What is more important is that core provisions of the law were left untouched, said Lagman. These are:
- Sec. 3(a) on the mandate of the government to provide and distribute for free to marginalized acceptors reproductive health services and supplies.
- Sec. 9 on the Philippine National Drug Formulary which shall include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective family product and supplies as determined by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Sec. 10 on the procurement and distribution of family planning supplies by the Department of Health (DOH) for distribution to local government units.
- Sec. 14 on the provision on age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents in all schools.
- Role of local government units in the implementation of the RH law as provided in various sections of the law.
- Sec. 20 on public awareness and nationwide multimedia campaign for the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights.
“This monumental decision upholds the separation of Church and State and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” Lagman said.
Except for 8 provisions, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the RH law.
Despite the minor setback, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao said the SC decision is still a triumph for the promotion of reproductive health in the country.
“The Supreme Court decision is a victory for the Filipino people! It is incomplete, but it is a historic victory nonetheless. For as long as the State is still mandated and empowered to implement a reproductive health program, we still won. One step at a time, but this is a significant step forward!”
The political party Akbayan, whose representatives in the House also supported the law, said they will work to amend the provisions struck down by the high court.
(1) Akbayan welcomes Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the #RHLAW. It is a historic triumph of reason over dogma.— Akbayan Party (@AkbayanParty)
April 8, 2014
(2) Pero Tuloy pa rin ang laban! Akbayan pledges to work hard to reformulate and amend the provisions which were stricken out by the SC.— Akbayan Party (@AkbayanParty) April 8, 2014
(3) Akbayan also pledges to exhaust all legislative measures to make certain that the law is fully responsive to the needs of the people.— Akbayan Party (@AkbayanParty) April 8, 2014
Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco summed up her reaction in one word:
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!— kimi cojuangco (@kimicojuangco) April 8, 2014
It took 14 years for the RH law to be passed and enacted, and was immediately subject to a status quo ante order before it could be implemented. The SQA issued by the High Court lasted for a year.
With the SC decision, Lagman noted that the work toward promoting reproductive health in the country does not stop with the decision.
“The High Court’s ruling is a challenge to the Executive to fully and faithfully implement the RH Law and to Congress to provide adequate and meaningful appropriations to fund reproductive health programs and to resist attempts to repeal or weaken the RH Law,” Lagman said. – Rappler.com