RH law is gender neutral, says gov’t rep in final round of debates

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04:22 PM August 27th, 2013

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By: Jamie Marie Elona, August 27th, 2013 04:22 PM

The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Reproductive Health Law does not discriminate a man or a woman when it provided that a health-care provider can be penalized if he or she refused to perform legal and medically safe health procedure over the absence of the spouse’s consent, Florin Hilbay, Senior State Solicitor of the Office of the Solicitor General, said Tuesday.

“It is gender neutral,” Hilbay said in his opening remark during the fifth and last round of oral arguments on the RH law, otherwise known as Republic Act 10354, held at the Supreme Court building.

He issued the statement as reply to the argument of petitioner Couples for Christ Foundation that the RH Law violates the freedom of religion “as it confers upon the wife sole authority to decide on matters relating to her reproductive health in disregard of their Catholic faith which gives the husband authority to decide in cases of marital deadlock . . .”

Hilbay noted that the law recognizes the constitutional right to liberty and privacy of either the couple to undergo an RH procedure.

He argued that the petitioner wants men to have the right to override the decision of women to avail of an RH service.

“This is not only unfair, it is also unconstitutional,” Hilbay said.

Under the RH Law, it was stated that in case a couple ends up having different decisions on a certain RH service, “the decision of the one undergoing the procedure shall prevail.”

Hiblay is the last speaker from the government side in the series of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the RH Law.

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