Latest Stories

‘A patient has the right to be referred to another medical practitioner’



MANILA, Philippines—A government representative to the final rounds of oral arguments on the Reproductive Health Law (RH Law) on Tuesday defends the right of a patient to be referred to another health-care provider if the medical practitioner thinks the service being asked is against his or her religious and political beliefs.

“To not refer is to create a victim in that patient,” said Florin Hilbay, Senior State Solicitor of the Office of the Solicitor General, in defense to arguments that the requirement of the RH Law that obligates a medical practitioner to refer a patient to another health-service provider is “unconstitutional.”

Petitioners argued that the duty to refer is unconstitutional as “it compels a conscientious objector . . . to become a party to an act forbidden by his faith.”

Under the RH Law, Hilbay said a doctor should refer a patient to another doctor, or any health-service provider, if he/she thinks that the service being asked for is against his/her personal beliefs.

Hilbay said a hospital is not a public forum for the exercise of free speech.

“A person who visits a hospital is looking for a person of science, not a theologian. She, therefore, expects expert medical advice, not religious instruction or a political debate,” Hilbay said, noting that the duty to refer is not a “political duty,” but a professional duty.

He said a patient becomes a victim when he/she is denied of access to information or services related to reproductive health.

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

For her part, Senator Pia Cayetano, a principal sponsor of the law, said the requirement is constitutional as the law “is not imposing any burden to anyone.”

It only seeks to protect the right of every Filipino to health-care services.

“Wala tayong pinipilit. Kung ayaw ng doctor ibigay, nandon pa din sa kanyang responsibilidad na i-refer ang pasyente sa ibang doctor, or health worker na makakaasikaso sa pangangailangan ng pasyente,” Cayetano said.

She said penalties may be imposed on a medical professional who would refuse to give correct information, or if he/she would give wrong information.

Meanwhile, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, asked Hilbay if a doctor should still make referrals if he/she believes a particular reproductive health medication is “unsafe or harmful” to a woman.

“If a doctor sincerely believes that what was provided by the government is not safe, is it ethical for that doctor to refer that someone to another doctor to prescribe that same prescription to that woman?” De Castro asked.

Hilbay answered that the act of referral may “not necessarily be right,” but insisted that it is still the duty of the doctor to refer the patient to another doctor.

The fifth and final round of oral arguments was concluded around 6:30 p.m.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno issued a series of questions to Hilbay’s team to answer in a memoranda within 60 days.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Florin Hilbay , oral arguments , oral debates , reproductive health law , RH law , Supreme Court

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • Marketplace