Appeals on RH Law dismissed

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 02 2014 02:53 AM | Updated as of Jul 02 2014 10:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its ruling last April that upheld the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law but voided some of its key provisions.

In session yesterday, SC justices denied the motions for reconsideration filed by six petitioners for lack of merit.

“Addressing the motions for reconsideration, the court with the same unanimous vote as in its decision promulgated on April 8, 2014, denied all the motions for reconsideration, subject to the same positions indicated by the specific justices on the specific sections declared to be unconstitutional,” read the ruling.

The appeals were filed by the Filipino Catholic Voices for Reproductive Health Inc., Pro-Life Philippines Inc., Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians, Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, former senator Francisco Tatad and wife Maria Fenny and lawyer Joan de Venecia, Korina Ana Manibog and Jan Robert Beltejar.

They had questioned the majority opinion of the SC justices that the penal provisions in the law violate the constitutional freedom of religion.

For instance, the SC voided portions of Section 7 of the law, which require private hospitals owned by religious groups to refer patients to other health facilities and allow minors who suffered miscarriage to access modern family planning methods without the consent of parents.

But the groups argued that the ruling would allow “violation of minor adolescent girls’ reproductive health rights” and would be “also detrimental to the work of medical providers in decreasing and halting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) transmissions.”

The high court had also voided provisions in Section 23 penalizing health workers who fail or refuse to disseminate information on RH programs regardless of religious beliefs, allowing married individuals to undergo RH procedures without the consent of their spouses, healthcare providers who refuse to refer non-emergency patients to another facility regardless of religious beliefs, health workers who require parental consent from a minor in non-emergency cases and public officials who refuse to support RH programs regardless of religion.