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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The RH Bill and the Law, 1: A Critique by Atty. Marwil Llasos J.D.

The Reproductive Health Bill is Unconstitutional
Atty. Marwil N. Llasos J.D.

The Reproductive Health Bill (House Bill No. 4244) in its entirety is unconstitutional because its very premise is at war with the philosophy embodying the 1987 Constitution, dubbed as the Pro-Life Constitution.

The RH Bill proponents hail it as a solution to poverty in our country. They insist that the RH Bill will spare children, especially those who are unwanted, from a life of poverty. The RH Bill will save mothers from emotional trauma brought about by child bearing. These arguments are not new. They were already discussed and voted on the floor of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. The result is the present Article II, Section 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution:

“Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”

Constitutionalist Rev. Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., in his annotation on the 1987 Philippine Constitution, expresses the sense of Article II, Section 12 that it “denies that the life of the unborn may be sacrificed merely to save the mother from emotional suffering or to spare the child from a life of poverty.”[1] The commonsensical and constitutional solution to the problem was stated by Fr. Bernas, thus: “The emotional trauma of a mother as well as the welfare of the child after birth can be attended through other means such as availing of the resources of welfare agencies.”[2]

What does Article II, Section 12 seek to achieve? Fr. Bernas answers that the provision was intended “primarily to prevent the state from adopting the doctrine in the United States Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade which liberalized abortion at the discretion of the mother any time during the first six months when it can be done without danger to the mother.”[3]

Clearly, the provision constitutionally outlaws abortion. There’s no chance that abortion can ever be legal in this country as long as the 1987 Philippine Constitution stands.


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