Supreme Court halts RH Law for 120 days

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Mar 19 2013 02:12 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2013 11:21 PM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court has issued a 120-day status quo ante (SQA) order against the highly divisive reproductive health (RH) Law.

In a text message, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said 10 of the members of the high court voted to issue the halt order.

The five who dissented were: Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.

Oral arguments have been set on June 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

Malacanang said it will abide by the ruling.

"We will observe the SQA resolution issued by the Supreme Court and we are confident that government will be able to defend the merits of the Responsible Parenthood Law," said Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the law’s principal proponents, said the SQA is just a temporary setback. He believes the high court will uphold it in the end.

“The status quo ante order issued by the Supreme Court is only a temporary delay in the implementation of the Reproductive Health law to enable the High Court to fully assess the merits and demerits of the pending petitions challenging the constitutionality of the RH law. I firmly believe that eventually the constitutionality of the RH law will be sustained,” he said.

The controversial measure was signed into law last December amid a strong lobby against it by the Catholic Church.

In a statement on December 29, Malacanang said: "The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history—a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society. At the same time, it opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation among different sectors in society: engagement and dialogue characterized not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people. "

Lagman said the long debates on the RH bill will not go to waste.

He said the right to life and health will not be defiled by virtue of the law, contrary to the opinion of the Catholic church.

He also said: “The accusation that the RH law is offensive to religious freedom is a patent aberration. The Act is replete with provisions upholding the freedom of religion and respecting religious convictions. The guarantee of freedom of informed choice is an assurance that no one would be compelled to violate the tenets of his religion or defy his religious convictions against his free will and own discernment of his faith.” – with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News