MANILA, Philippines—The Senate leadership has introduced a measure to counter the Malacañang-backed reproductive health (RH) bill.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has authored the proposed “Protection of the Unborn Child Act of 2011,” which seeks to provide a comprehensive framework to ensure the welfare of both the unborn child and the mother.
Senate Bill No. 2497 was coauthored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III. Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. filed his own version in Senate Bill No. 2635.
Sotto told the Inquirer that the two bills could serve as a “compromise” among groups seeking to promote life and ensure the well-being of women. “If theirs is an honest-to-goodness [advocacy], then this is it,” he said.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Enrile lamented that “the deleterious and often fatal consequences” of abortion “have been used as a convenient excuse to advance population control under the euphemism called ‘reproductive health.’”
The measure protects the unborn child from conception “from abortifacients, abortive acts and practices that induce abortion.”
To prevent the “word war” between the Catholic Church and RH advocates from degenerating, the two camps should find “sober voices” in their ranks and reengage in a dialogue to forge a “compromise bill,” Sen. Edgardo Angara said.
“The intensity is unprecedented. I don’t think this [issue] should provoke that kind of exchange. The discussion should be calmer and more reasoned than replete with threats and blackmail and intimidation,” Angara told the Inquirer.
He suggested Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Iloilo to speak for the Church.
Enrile conceded that the escalating conflict between some bishops and RH proponents had no easy solution.
“I do not know the extent of the commitment of the RH bill proponents—if they want to relent. And I do not know also what is the farthest that the Church can go to accommodate. So it is a very difficult issue,” he told reporters. Reports from Christian V. Esguerra and TJ Burgonio in Manila; Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao