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Saturday, June 20, 2009

ALFI Key Comments on House Bill 5043

ALFI Key Comments on the House Bill 5043 (with links to PDF files of related anti-RH Bill studies.)

Several very important salient points are conspicuously missing in the article on theproposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 written by Rep. EdcelC. Lagman. We believe that it is only by presenting complete and accurate information aboutthe bill that the readers can have an informed opinion about it.

A. Access to a full range of contraceptives
The bill gives women the right to choose between natural and artificial methods of birthcontrol and guarantees access to the full range of “(h)ormonal contraceptives, intrauterinedevices, injectables and other allied reproductive health products and supplies.”It has been repeatedly pointed out in medical articles and bulletins, including the pro-contraception and pro-abortion literature from Alan Guttmacher Institute of the PlannedParenthood foundation of the U.S.1 that, contraceptive drugs and devices have two modes ofaction. They may prevent ovulation, or if ovulation takes place because of the phenomenon ofbreakthrough ovulation, they prevent uterine implantation. The use of these contraceptives,including intrauterine devices, renders the endometrium (lining of the uterus) hostile to thefertilized ovum (product of fertilization or ovulation) and prevents its implantation in theendometrium as a consequence. Deprived of shelter, the growing embryo – a precious little,defenseless human being – is thus expelled from the uterus. This is plain and simple abortion!The bill creates what otherwise is a sealed path to abortion by not only advocating, butin fact, mandating, universal access to a full range of family planning methods, techniques,devices, and services, and information thereon. While, as claimed by its proponents, the billdoes not legalize abortion, it does, in fact, promote abortion.
In addition, the bill transgresses the constitutional mandate for the State to “equallyprotect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”
B. Prohibited Acts are criminally penalized
The bill imposes imprisonment and/or fine on:

1. Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:a. Refuse to provide reproductive health care services to duly DSWD-certified abused pregnant minor on whose case no parental consent is necessary.b. Refuse to perform voluntary ligation and vasectomy and other legal and medically- safe reproductive health care services on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of spousal consent or authorization.c. Knowingly withhold information or impede dissemination thereof and/or intentionally provide incorrect information on reproductive health programs and services.d. Refuse to extend reproductive health care services and information on account of patient’s civil status, gender or sexual orientation, age, religion, personal circumstances, and nature of work: Provided, That all conscientious objections of health care service providers based on religious grounds shall be respected: Provided, further, That the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provided within the same facility or one which isconveniently accessible.
2. Any public official who prohibits or restricts, personally or through a subordinate, the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning.

The penal provisions bring to the fore various constitutional concerns.

Firstly, the bill makes a mockery of the “natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character” by granting to abused or pregnant minors the right to avail of “reproductive health care services” which by definition, include sterilization and ligation and a full range of techniques, services, devices, and contraceptives, without need of parental consent.

Secondly, the bill undermines the “sanctity of family life” and violates the constitutionalmandate for the State to “protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous socialinstitution” by allowing the spouse to undergo “voluntary ligation and vasectomy and otherlegal and medically-safe reproductive health care services” without the consent or authorizationof the other spouse.

Thirdly, the bill defies the “free exercise of religion” clause of the Constitution. It hasbeen said that the religion clause of the Constitution is designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others andwith the common good. It is only the existence of a grave and present danger of a character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health or anyother legitimate public interest compelling enough for the State to intervene that will justifyrestraint on religious freedom. The challenge of the moment is to determine and identify that‘compelling state interest’, if any, that will justify infringement of the religious freedom.

C. Huge budget appropriations
Substantial amounts appropriated in the annual General Appropriations Act for reproductive health and family planning under the DOH and POPCOM, together with tenpercent (10%) of the Gender and Development budgets of all government departments, agencies, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities, and such additional sums as may be necessary, shall be made available for the effective and full implementation of the Act.The appropriation of billions of pesos will contribute to further economic degradation of the nation by diverting the scarce government funds to the implementation and promotion of the population control program, rather than to education and basic social services to improvethe quality of life and promote the well-being of every Filipino.

Other Key Comments in PDF Files:

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