Sotto: RH bill will pass Senate, but…By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The reproductive health (RH) bill will clear the Senate but not without significant amendments to provisions on government funding, especially involving the use of contraceptives, abortion and the concept of population control.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto gave that assurance to RH proponents Thursday despite his opposition to the controversial measure.
But Sotto would not go into the specifics of the amendments that he and other senators planned to introduce after his third speech questioning the necessity of the bill next week.
He once said, however, that he will call for the removal or modification of a provision that requires doctors and other hospital personnel to immediately come to the aid of a pregnant woman who is wheeled into the emergency room after a self-induced abortion.
Sotto fears the provision, if not changed, could actually encourage women to resort to abortion since the law requires doctors to come to their aid once they are in the hospital.
He insisted that amendments to the bill passed on third and last reading by the Senate should be preserved in the reconciled version that senators and congressmen will work out in conference.
Senate-House conferences thresh out differences in the versions of bills passed separately by the two houses of Congress.
The reconciled version of a bill is then presented to the senators and the congressmen for ratification.
Sotto said there were worries that senators on the Senate conference panel—most likely those who sponsored the bill—might reintroduce the deleted or altered provisions during the conference.
“It is possible to bring back the deleted portions during the bicameral meeting,” he said. “In case this happens, the measure brought back to us for ratification would face rough sailing in the session.”
Sotto said all senators who would introduce amendments to the bill would not agree to the deletion or setting aside of their proposals by the conference committee.
He said there had been cases when the reconciled version from the conference was rejected and sent back to the floor for reexamination and approval on second reading.