- Office of Rep. Edcel C. Lagman
- Independent – Albay
- 03 January 2013
- 0916-6406737 / 0918-9120137
Republic Act No. 10354 or the “Reproductive Health Act of 2012” is completely constitutional and will surmount any attack or test on its constitutionality.
The RH law has not defiled any constitutional principles on proscription of abortion, protection of the unborn, religious freedom, family life, marriage and responsible parenthood.
In fact, upon repeated amendments proposed by anti-RH legislators, all relevant provisions of the Constitution are included virtually verbatim in the statute’s declaration of principles.
Those who challenge the constitutionality of the RH law principally invoke Section 12 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution which provides, among others, that the State “shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn.”
This challenge is flawed and fallacious for the following reasons:
1. The genesis of the subject provision shows that the “unborn” does not refer to the “fertilized ovum” which was not given the right to life;
2. The life of the “unborn” is protected “from conception”, not before conception when there is nothing yet to protect; and
3. The intention of the framers of the 1987 Constitution is to prevent the Congress and the Supreme Court from legalizing abortion, which criminal act the RH law does not tolerate and in fact prohibits.
The rejected precursor of the subject provision on the “protection of the unborn” was the proposal to include in Section 1 of the Bill of Rights the proposition that the “right to life extends to the fertilized ovum.” This proposal did not materialize. Its rejection by the Constitutional Commission of 1986 unmistakably evinces that the purported concept that “life begins at fertilization” was not constitutionalized.
The Constitution mandates the protection of the life of the unborn from conception. In other words, no less than the Constitution acknowledges that life begins when conception sets in, and it is upon conception that there is an “unborn” which is entitled to protection.
The subject constitutional provision is consistent with nature and is in consonance with medical science. The fertilized ovum is not viable until it successfully implants on the woman’s uterus for sustenance.
The manifest intent of the aforecited provision is to assure that neither the Congress nor the Supreme Court will legalize abortion. The proponent of the provision, Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, underscored that the “intention … is to make sure that there will be no pro-abortion laws ever passed by Congress or any pro-abortion decision passed (penned) by the Supreme Court.”
The RH law subscribes to a commendable fealty to the constitutional prohibition of abortion. It does not legalize abortion. In fact, it is anti-abortion as evidenced by the following clear provisions: 1) it “recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by Law”; and 2) one of the elements of reproductive health care is the “proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications”.
Neither the Constitution nor any law prohibits contraceptives, which in the first place are not abortifacients. Contraception prevents conception or pregnancy, while abortion terminates pregnancy. This is the whale of a difference which the detractors of the RH law refuse to see.
The law, however, concedes that the State shall not promote contraceptives that will “prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” In other words, once contraception fails and an ovum is fertilized, no human or medical intervention is authorized to prevent its implantation in the mother’s uterus.
This provision is consistent with the principal mechanisms of contraception which are to prevent a woman from ovulating and/or prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, both of which avoid fertilization.
The family is a social institution which is not immune from legislation, particularly the State’s police power to enact laws for the general welfare, like the RH law; Civil Code of the Philippines; Family Code of the Philippines (E.O. 209); the Child and Welfare Code (P.D. 603); and the Special Protection of Filipino Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (R.A. 7610), among others.
The RH law respects the “rights of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood”, and it also discharges the constitutionally mandated obligation of the State to support the “natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and development of moral character” by prescribing formal age and development-appropriate reproductive health education considering the default of many parents in imparting sex education to their children since conversation about sex is generally taboo in Filipino homes.
The RH law is replete with provisions upholding religious freedom and respecting religious convictions consistent with the hallmark of the law on freedom of informed choice.
The Imbong petition before the Supreme Court is premature because it seeks to prevent the implementation of a law which is not yet effective.