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Circumstantially Factual
Guillermo Bandonill Jr.

Supreme Court declares RH Law constitutional
It is only fitting that the Supreme Court, voting unanimously last April 8, declared the Reproductive Health Law to be constitutional. Although some provisions did not pass the scrutiny of legal approval, it does not make any difference because these eight provisions are mere minor details that do not go into the spirit of the law. What matters most is that, overall, Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act had been declared constitutional by the highest tribunal. Now, the law can be implemented to benefit millions of our countrymen who had been deprived of proper education and health care when it comes to planning their families. For a frail and callous society like ours where it is mistakenly believed that the source of wealth is in the number of children that can be produced, this law is just what the doctor ordered, so to speak.

That the SC declared eight of its provisions to be unconstitutional is of no moment. That is understandable and expected. For one, most of those provisions affect the religious beliefs and personal sensitivities of married couples in our country. For instance, the provision that penalizes health workers and healthcare providers who refuse to disseminate information on reproductive health programs regardless of religious beliefs transgresses on a person’s freedom of religion.

Another is the allowance granted to married individuals to undergo reproductive health procedures like vasectomy or ligation without the consent of the spouse. This is acceptable because of the sensitivity of reproduction when it comes to married individuals. Husbands have the right to dictate when they should stop having children and to curtail this right by cutting or tying up their organs or that of their wives is one thing that a chauvinistic society like ours cannot tolerate.

Hence, it is not really a setback to the applicability of the law that the SC declared some of its provisions as unlawful. The proponents do not look at it that way. Instead, it gives an open-ended opportunity to improve the law by striking down those provisions that are unacceptable and amend it in order to conform to allowable limits. Instead of looking at it as a restriction, it should be looked upon as a chance to attune the law so that it will become valid in all aspects.

Then again, the most important thing is that the provisions that really matter the most have been upheld.

Among these is the campaign to stir public awareness for the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights. This is most significant because it promotes the educational aspect and public awareness of the law.

Second, the distribution for free of reproductive health services and supplies to the marginalized sector of our society. It need not be over-emphasized that the bulk of our population comes from the marginalized sector. They are the most susceptible when it comes to reproduction of children. It is only fitting that free health services and most especially, free health supplies, be given them if only to guard their health against unwanted pregnancies.

And third, the incorporation of Reproductive Health education to adolescents in all schools. This is empowering our youth to have a correct attitude when it comes to reproductive health. These teens tend to experiment on their sexuality. So, instead of them exploring this dangerous side of their growing up with reckless abandon, it is better that they be guided by experts who can tell them the consequences of their exploits.

The bottom line, therefore, is that we now have a law that says that each and every Filipino has a free choice in determining the manner by which he can build his family, to know what is healthy and what is not when it comes to having children and to have children within the limits allowed by his capability so that they can grow up in a decent and comfortable environment guided by God and their conscience that they will become responsible and productive citizens. This is what we are asking for.

With the admission of the Reproductive Health Law, it is given to us. Let us grab this opportunity to apply it in our life and give it a chance to work to our advantage.

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