First petition vs reproductive health law filed before SCBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Less than half a month after it came into force, the Supreme Court was asked to stop the implementation of the reproductive health law.
In a 25-page petition for certiorari, couple James and Lovely Imbong, on behalf of their minor children and the Magnificat Child Development Center, said the law “mocks the nation’s Filipino culture.” James Imbong is the son of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) lawyer Jo Imbong.
President Benigno Aquino III signed into law on December 21 the controversial measure, which will promote contraception, sexual education and family planning programs vigorously opposed by the country’s Roman Catholic Church.
Women groups and other supporters of the law have praised Aquino for pushing its passage within the first half of his six-year term after the measure languished in Congress for 13 years largely because legislators were reluctant to pass it because of the strong opposition of the Catholic Church.
The petitioners said that Republic Act 10354 or the Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health is illegal and should be stopped.
“This case will present the illegality of the Act as it mocks the nation’s Filipino culture–noble and lofty in its values and holdings on life, motherhood and family life–now the fragile lifeblood of a treasured culture that today stands solitary but proud in contrast to other nations,” petitioners said.
Named respondents are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
In about a dozen provisions, the 24-page law repeatedly reminds that abortion drugs are banned, but it requires health workers to provide care for those who have complications arising from illegal abortions.
Under the law, the government will hire more village health workers who will distribute contraceptives, especially to the poor, and provide instructions on natural family planning methods that the Church approves.
The government will also train teachers who will provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents — youth age 10 to 19 years old. This will include information on protection against discrimination and sexual abuse and violence against women and children, teen pregnancy, and women’s and children’s rights. With the Associated Press