April 9, 2014
Despite declaring eight (8) provisions illegal, the Supreme Court’s upholding of the RH Law as constitutional is hard won victory for the Filipino people, especially for poor women. The salient provisions that will provide the marginalized free reproductive health services and supplies, adolescents age and development appropriate reproductive health education in schools, and public awareness and nationwide campaign for reproductive health and rights have remained intact. So goes with the role of local government units in the RH Law’s implementation.
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), however, cannot disregard the importance of the provisions declared unconstitutional by the high court. The ruling has direct impact to the availment of services of minors and women of reproductive health services and supplies. Minor parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage and married women not in emergency situations are not allowed to access RH services and supplies without consent of parents and spouses, respectively. These negate women’s right to make decisions for their selves.
The SC has also considered illegal the punishment of a health care provider who fails or refuses to disseminate information regarding RH services, refer a patient not in an emergency or life-threatening case to another health care service provider, and public officer who refuses to support reproductive health programs or do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program regardless of his or her religious beliefs. The ruling undermines the rights of women to avail of RH information and services from those who are supposed to be implementing the law.