The Supreme Court of the Philippines today upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 10354, or the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.
Center for International Law (Centerlaw), represented Senator Pia Cayetano and former Secretaries of Health Esperanza Cabral and Jaime Galvez-Tan who filed Petitions in Intervention with respect to the petitions brought before the Supreme Court asking for the law’s nullification. Centerlaw also represented former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez, Jr. who passed away in October 2013.
The multiple petitions asking for the nullification of the law stemmed mostly from groups allied with the Catholic Church as well as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the petitions for and against the RH Law until August last year, struck down eight provisions mostly focusing on those that penalize RH providers who refuse to provide RH procedures or who refuse to refer a patient to another provider due to religion. The core provisions of the law, however, were upheld by the Court.
Centerlaw Chairperson Harry Roque says, “This is a big victory for equality and the right of the Filipino people to health. To have the law declared unconstitutional based on the objections of the Catholic Church would have been a violation of the non-establishment clause in the Philippine Constitution. Despite whatever religious protestations there may be from different quarters, our government ought to observe neutrality with respect to all religions.”
Ethel Avisado, Bertha Fellow with Centerlaw adds, “The RH law has been a dream for Filipino women. It means access to contraception and health care for mothers who continue to get pregnant and have no idea how feed the children they already have. It means lesser preventable deaths due to childbirth.”
Bertha Fellow Geepee Gonzales adds, “This is great news for our country. While we are disappointed that some provisions were struck down, majority of the law stands. This means that the Court recognizes the right of every Filipino to health. It is also a step towards our nation’s continued development.”