Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's wrong with the Reproductive Health Bill

Salient paragraphs taken from Atty. Jose C. Sison's column entitled "Legislation by Popularity Contest" in The Philippine Star's October 24, 2008 edition.

If the bill and its contents are inherently wrong or harmful or unconstitutional our legislators should not enact them into law. The great number of people favoring and supporting said bill and its contents will never make them right and constitutional. Bills are enacted into law because of their inherent validity and integrity rather than popularity.

One of the policies of the RH bill guarantees universal access to modern methods of family planning, including the use of artificial contraceptives and devices. Time and again it has been pointed out to its sponsors that some of these artificial contraceptives either block the implantation of, or expel the fertilized egg or ovum (biologically known as zygote) as medical science has already established. In other words, they cause abortion which is illegal and punishable under the Revised Penal Code. The bill's proponents have not squarely disproven this fact by another credible medical finding to the contrary. To be sure they even impliedly admit it in the bill which mentions "post-abortion complications."

Section 12, Article II of the Constitution mandazes the State to protect the life of the unborn from the moment of conception. The aftereffects of these contraceptives and devices clearly endanger rather than protect the life of the unborn and therefore run counter to the constitutional precept.

Other sections of the bill violate rights guaranteed by the Constitution or undermines basic and inviolable institutions that should be protected by the State.

Section 12, requiring reproductive health education of children from Grade 5 to fourth year high school, interferes with the inherent right and duty of the parents in the rearing and education of their children and the development of their moral character in accordance with their religious beliefs and convictions.

Section 17, compelling employers to provide reproductive health care services, supplies, devices, and surgical procedures, infringes on the religious beliefs and convictions of individuals especially Catholics whose doctrines give the highest value to human life.

The same is true with Section 21 (a) par. 1 that compels health care providers to provide their patients with health care services which they believe are contrary to the teachings of their religion.

Section 21 (a) par. 2 allows a spouse to undergo ligation or vasectomy without the consent or knowledge of the partner. This intrudes into the and undermines the inviolability of marriage as a social institution. It desecrates the sanctity of family life and weakens the family as a basic autonomous social institution founded on marriage.

Section 21 (a) par. 3 permits children who are still minors (and therefore under parental authority) to seek reproductive health care services without their parents' consent. This clearly undermines parental authority and invades the sancity of family life.

Capping the constitutionally objectionable aspects of this bill is the injection of a coercive police in tryin gto achieve its hidden goal of population control by family size limitation. It imposes a penalty of imprisonment and fines at the court's discretion. It is clear from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission that coercive methods limiting family size is definitely prohibited.