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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why not just support HB 13?

By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) 
Updated October 08, 2010 12:00 AM

So many legislators are outhustling each other in resurrecting their own versions of the oft-“aborted” RH bill because it is the center of media attraction. Obviously they are riding on the perceived presidential support and the rude behavior or other “noises” created by its ignorant and misinformed backers in the streets.

Before our legislators are carried away by the frenzy surrounding this controversial RH bill, it may be advisable for them to go over their legislative records of bills filed. Here they will find House Bill No. 13 introduced by the Hon. Roilo S. Golez without so many hullabaloos. It is entitled “An Act providing for the Safety and Protection of the Unborn Child and for Other Purposes” and it certainly has more significance and greater impact on the lives of our people, our families and our culture.

As explained by Congressman Golez, the Philippines has one of the most comprehensive Constitutions for the protection of human rights. It even mandates that the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and of the unborn child from conception. Yet since its adoption 23 years ago in 1987, no law has been enacted to implement this constitutional provision. HB 13 thus aims to remedy the oversight by recognizing and extending the mantle of legal protection to the basic right to life of the unborn child equally with the right to life of the mother. It is based on the truism that the right to life is the most fundamental of all rights from which all other rights are derived, including the women’s reproductive rights, and without which such other rights are meaningless.

For this purpose HB 13 has clarified and defined the meaning of: (1) conception, as the precise moment when the sperm fertilizes the egg which is when a new life is formed, with a genetic make-up distinct from the parents; (2) unborn child, as a child at any stage of existence and development beginning from the union of the sperm and the egg until the birth ; (3) implantation, as referring to that stage of the development of the human life taking place around five days after conception when the fertilized egg is implanted in the ovum; (4) fetal development, as the scientifically established development process of the beginning of human life from the union of the egg and the sperm until birth of the child during which changes occur from fertilization, implantation, six weeks embryo, six months fetus until the infant is brought out of the womb; (5) abortion, as any act or practice done intentionally or unintentionally such as hilot or abdominal massage, administration of certain medicines or herbal concoctions, suction, hysterectomy, saline injection, various formulation of the morning after pills Levonorgestrel or other similar means or device, substances whether used singly or in combination with other substances that cause or recklessly endanger or result in injury, damage, expulsion, interference in the natural development of the fetus, or the death of the unborn child; and (6) abortifacient, as any device, medicine, substance, practice which may damage, injure, interfere or recklessly endanger or cause the expulsion of the fetus or death of the unborn child.

In conjunction with its declared policy that the State recognizes the Filipino family including the unborn child as the foundation of the nation, HB 13 bestows and attaches human personality to an unborn child from the moment of conception thereby entitling it to possess and enjoy all human rights conferred by law to other persons, first and foremost of which is the right to life, safety and protection while still in the mother’s womb. On the other hand to strengthen the solidarity of the family, the bill expressly recognizes the rights of parents of a minor with an unborn child superior to that of the State in all matters involving said unborn child and the mother, particularly the right to give consent to any decision or disposition relating to the unborn child at any stage of development.

One of the objectives of the bill is also to enhance the health of the mother by avoiding means that may adversely affect the viability of the unborn child at any stage of development. Hence HB 13 prohibits abortive acts that include using, administering, dispensing, injecting and delivery by whatever means, of “abortifacients”. These prohibited acts, as well as the act of abortion itself are penalized by the bill one degree higher than the penalties provided in Articles 255 to 259 of the Revised Penal Code.

HB 13 should therefore be prioritized over the RH bill. The sponsors of the RH bill should support this bill if they are really against legalizing abortion as they openly profess. In fact if HB 13 is passed, the RH bill may no longer be necessary.

HB 13 already takes care of some aspects of the women’s reproductive health by prohibiting abortive acts and abortifacients. The Department of Health, on the other hand can take care of the other aspects contemplated by the RH bill without even enacting it into law. The millions intended to purchase contraceptives, can be used for improving the medical services given to mother and child and for maternal and child care.

Actually foreign groups are pushing for the RH bill to control our population on the pretext that overpopulation is the cause of poverty in the land. This is a myth. There is no overpopulation in our country but only overconcentration of population in some areas. Our population is increasing only because we still have men and women of reproductive age but our population growth rate is already decreasing as shown by the US CIA statistics. Besides overpopulation is not the cause of poverty but the inequitable distribution of the country’s wealth and resources. Only the rich and the corrupt government officials are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Whatever happened to the campaign slogan kung walang corrupt walang mahirap?

HB 13 is therefore the better bill to swallow. It should be immediately enacted into law.

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