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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Atty. Joe Sison responds to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on the "Right to Privacy" issue

From Mr. Sison's regular Philippine Star column:

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) 
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) 

The confusion is getting worse. There are now three RH bills: the Lagman bill in the Lower House, the Santiago bill in the Upper House and the bill coming from Malacanang called Responsible Parenthood bill which is included among the list of priority bills sent to the Lower House for approval. The stakes must really be getting higher and the “pressure” becoming more and more “irresistible” as more and more people not only from the Legislative but also from the Executive Department are getting into the act. Hence it is really important to identify the groups lobbying and their motives in aggressively pushing for the passage of the bill as called for by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

Apparently the only thing clear at this stage is that the three bills contain provision about the use of contraceptives as a means to limit the size of the family under the guise of exercising responsible parenthood and women’s reproductive health. They are just the same dog with different collars. This is the main objectionable and most controversial feature of the bill because of the effects of contraceptives.

Indeed in her sponsorship speech of the bill, Senator Santiago was quoted as saying that the “state cannot restrict the right of married persons to use contraceptives. The state cannot prohibit the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried persons. And the state cannot require that contraceptives should be sold only by pharmacists”. Readily, something is misleading in this statement because, at present, contraceptives are not prohibited by the state. There is no law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives. In fact the state itself has distributed contraceptives for free during the time of Cabral at the DOH. Anybody can already buy them at the market even without any RH bill. So if Santiago’s purpose is just to make the contraceptives available, there is no need for an RH bill.

Clearly therefore, the real reason behind the RH bill, whether it is the Lagman, Santiago or Malacanang version, is to appropriate taxpayers’ money for the purchase of contraceptives and make them available especially to the poor who cannot afford them supposedly to solve the problem of poverty by preventing the increase in the number of poor people. In this connection, noteworthy is Senator Sotto III’s observation that one of the groups lobbying for the passage of the bill is the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), the largest family planning NGO in the country. FPOP is a member of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) established by Margaret Sanger, “the inventor of eugenics or the scientific strategy of eliminating the poor, the weak, the useless and the uneducated”. Coincidentally, this strategy resembles and jibes with the purpose of the RH bill. Hence there must really be some “sinister motive” in pushing for the RH bill which should be looked into as Senator Sotto III suggested.

Worse still is that Senator Santiago now even uses the right of privacy as justification for passing the bill. She said that “the Reproductive Health measure is an affirmation of the constitutional right to privacy”; that “the right to privacy applies to sex, marriage and procreation”. In using this new angle, Santiago cites the US case of Griswold vs. Connecticut, 381 US 479 (1965). In said case, the US Supreme Court invalidated a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives because it violates the “right to marital privacy”.

Offhand, one could readily see the flaws and contradictions in this latest stance of the Senator. First of all, the case cited pertains to a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives. In our case here however, there is no such law involved. Hence the cited case is plainly inapplicable to the present controversy on the RH bill. Secondly, and the irony of it all, is that the RH measure she is advocating precisely intrudes into the most intimate life of a couple as it attempts to influence them on how and when to have sex. It even cheapens sex and leads to marital infidelity because with contraceptives supposedly assuring “safe” sex, being made available, couples may be lured into satisfying their sexual urge with anybody else. So the RH bill is clearly an intrusion into and not an affirmation of the right to privacy. Third, and most importantly of all, by citing Grisworld, Senator Santiago has even confirmed the link between contraception and abortion, that contraception is the cause of abortion. Indeed after the Griswold ruling came the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision (410 US 113) where the US SC legalized abortion in America and confirmed that “in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception”.

Senator Santiago’s stance on the RH bill even places the right to privacy superior to the right to life. This runs counter to the principle enshrined in our Constitution that “all rights are subject and subsequent to the right to life”. In short, the RH measure that Santiago is advocating which encourages and even subsidizes the use of contraception violates the constitutional policy requiring the state to protect the life of the unborn from the moment of conception.

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