THE RH LAW: LIFE AND DEATH IN THEIR HANDS
MANILA, MARCH 25, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) By Manila Standard Today - The new pope of the Roman Catholic Church was installed on the same day that the Philippine Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order suspending the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.
We can imagine how some can claim that such synchronicity is no accident. After all, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has been the loudest, most adamant critic of the law, which seeks only to enable couples, women especially, to choose from many options when and how often they would bring forth children into the world.
Reproductive health advocates have toiled for more than a decade, through several Congresses, to get the measure to pass.
In December 2012, lawmakers from both Houses of Congress crossed party lines to pass the measure. The vote was bolstered by the President’s support, albeit initially half-hearted, for the bill.
After the law’s passage, numerous individuals and organizations immediately went to the Supreme Court to challenge what they claim is a patently unconstitutional law which runs counter to the guarantee of protection of the life of the unborn.
The justices voted 10-5 even as the court spokesman said that the order was preliminary and that it was still possible that the court would uphold the legality of the RA. Oral arguments have been set for June 18.
Both sides have exhausted their arguments over the many years that the issue has progressively gained coverage in media. Attempts at dialogue have also broken down as the Church has adopted an uncompromising stance despite the authors’ willingness to water down some of the bill’s provisions.
It all boils down, then, to the Associate Justices’ inclination to see the logic and the justice behind the assailed law. The issue has festered for so long but the ills it seeks to address—unplanned pregnancies, high maternal mortality, abortion, and sexually transmitted infections—will never be trite. This is because every day, there are Filipinos who suffer, first hand, from their lack of access to information about their options.
Four months is a long time. Many things can happen.
We cross our fingers and hope that the justices keep a rational mind and a compassionate heart. The fate of the law, and of the millions whose lives stand to change because of it, are in their hands now.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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