Tatad, doctors asks SC to declare RH Law as illegal

Former Senator Francisco Tatad and a group of doctors on Thursday separately asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the controversial Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, which took effect last January. In a petition for certiorari and prohibition, Tatad asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction against the RH law, saying it "cannot co-exist with the Constitution. The Constitution must prevail by declaring the RH Law stillborn." Tatad was joined in the petition by his wife Fenny, and lawyer Alan Paguia. "The state cannot as a general principle routinely invade the privacy of married couples in the exercise of their most intimate rights and duties to their respective spouses," the petitioners said. The RH law seeks to provide improved public access to natural and artificial family planning options, better maternal care, and youth education. But the Tatads and Paguia said the law runs contrary to public morals and is destructive of the harmony and peace of society. The petition said giving couples the "freedom to choose the means or method by which to carry out the decision made for them by the State... would violate the sanctity and privacy of family life." The decision to practice birth control, regardless of the means, should be left to the couple alone, they argued. They said the bad effects of contraception have long been demonstrated, citing Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Viate, which noted among others that the use of contraception would result in "conjugal infidelity and general lowering of morality." However, they were not asking the government to promote the Church's teaching against contraception, but were "simply asking that the State not trample upon their religious beliefs and moral convictions." "The RH Law has divided the nation, and threatens to divide it further till. Only judicial wisdom and statesmanship can lift the nation now from the gathering clouds of greater discord and turmoil," they added. 'Wrong venue' For their part, the Doctors for Life and Filipinos for Life (F4L), represented by lawyer Howard Calleja, cited a study conducted in Spain showing that incidents of abortion doubled despite the use of condoms and birth control pills by 2,000 women over the span of 10 years. "The high tribunal must carefully scrutinize the RH law considering it was rammed though Congress by the Aquino administration to please the well-oiled pro-RH lobby," said F4L president Anthony James Perez. James Imbong and his wife Lovely-Ann were the first to question the legality of the law, which was enacted by President Benigno Aquino III in December last year. James is the son of a legal counsel for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which staunchly opposed the RH bill when it was being deliberated in Congress. The Catholic Church, which only espouses natural family planning methods, was against the passage of the RH law as it promotes both natural and artificial family planning methods. After the Imbong couple, six other petitions were filed—five contesting it and one supporting it. In defense of the law, former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said there was a "vast array of medical evidence" to prove the efficiency of legal and government-approved contraceptives, the promotion of which is among the main thrusts of the law." She said bringing up these concerns on contraceptives, which she claimed have repeatedly been brought up and answered in Congress in the last 14 years, would only prolong the delay on the law's implementation. Hontiveros-Baraquel, a senatorial candidate in the May 2013 elections, said critics of the law are seeking help from the "wrong venue." She said instead of bringing the matter before the Supreme Court, they should be questioning the "efficacy of reproductive health products" before the Food and Drug Authority. Although already in effect, the government said the implementing rules and regulations for the law are still being drafted and are expected to be released in April. Despite several petitions against the law, the Supreme Court has yet to issue a temporary restraining order. — DVM, GMA News