Physicians, citizen pro-lifers file 8th petition vs RH law

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(L-R) Dr. Rey Echavez of Doctors for Life, Atty. Howard Calleja, and Anthony James Perez of Filipinos for Life at the Supreme Court.

MANILA, Feb. 14, 2013–Two organizations representing medical doctors and citizen pro-lifers trooped to the Supreme Court Thursday morning to file the eighth petition against the new “reproductive health” or RH law, branding the measure unconstitutional and “ultimately detrimental to our society.”

The petition, filed jointly by Doctors for Life and Filipinos for Life (F4L), seeks to declare Republic Act (RA) 10354, or “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012,” unconstitutional, as well as to stop its implementation and the release of government funds. It also seeks a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction.

The groups, represented by Atty. Howard Calleja, debunked the mantra of the pro-RH lobby that increased contraception will improve the lives of Filipinos, aside from discouraging abortions.

“[A]ctual experience proves the contrary. A study conducted in Spain shows that despite the use of condoms and birth control pills by two-thousand (2,000) women over the span of ten (10) years, the incidence of elective abortions doubled,” the petition read. “There can only be one explanation for this. The overdependence of individuals on contraceptives promotes irresponsible, reckless and imprudent sexual behavior. In the event of failure or misuse of the contraceptive method, unwanted pregnancies occur, forcing women to turn to elective abortion to terminate such unwanted pregnancies.”

The petition presented six arguments. First, RA 10354 violates the Doctrine of Benevolent Neutrality under the Freedom of Religion Clause, which is safeguarded by the Bill of Rights.

“Although no law should establish or promote any religion, the law should also accommodate the religious beliefs of individuals and not force them to act against their beliefs. R.A. 10354 completely disregards the fact that majority of the Filipino people are devout Roman Catholics, who firmly believe in procreation and do not subscribe to the belief that pregnancies should be controlled or prevented,” it said.

The RH law also violates the constitutionally protected right against involuntary servitude “by mandating that health care services cannot be denied to any person and in case of refusal due to religious beliefs or ethics, the health care provider must refer the patient to another health care provider.”

Moreover, the title of the law embraces more than one subject – Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health, another constitutional violation.

The constitutional right to life is also violated by the RH law’s aim of promoting artificial contraceptives that work to prevent conception. “The Constitution itself says that the right of the individual is protected from the moment of conception. Expert embryologists and scientists agree that conception begins at the moment of fertilization (Alcorn 2007). Thus, medicines such as hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and even birth control pills, which prevent or impair fertilization are considered abortifacient,” the petition read.

The petitioners also attacked the law because it would allow the state to control the private education sector and medical industry, for instance by making it mandatory for reproductive health to be part of every school’s curriculum.

“Lastly, R.A. 10354 encourages the establishment on monopolies, which is not only unconstitutional but stunts the growth of the manufacturers and service providers in the Medical Industry. R.A. 10354 makes hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective family planning products and supplies essential drugs, and thus producers of these products are already given an advantage over all others, thereby contributing to the uneven distribution of wealth in our Country,” the petition read.

Anthony James Perez, F4L president, said: “The high tribunal must carefully scrutinize the RH law considering it was rammed through Congress by the Aquino administration to please the well-oiled pro-RH lobby.”

Named respondents were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

“What we are presenting here are medical and legal arguments against the RH law. We believe the Supreme Court will listen to us and correct this grave error imposed by the executive and legislative branches on faithful and freedom-loving Filipinos,” said Dr. Rey Echavez, ad-hoc chairman of Doctors for Life, a group whose members include professionals holding doctoral degrees including doctors of medicine, doctors of jurisprudence, doctors of philosophy and doctors of theology. (CBCP for Life)

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