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Wednesday, April 9, 2014
TRUTH to tell, I think the High Court’s ruling on the reproductive health (RH) law is truly a triumph of democracy. No one should say it is a defeat of the Church, or a victory purely of the so-called anti-life group. It is, to me, a victory of democracy and justice.
Why so? Because it is decidedly a well-balanced decision. The High Court has extended to the people their freedom of choice, regardless of what social station in life they are in right now.
The High Court did not bar or prohibit the church faithful from disobeying the dictates of their conscience, if they so choose not to avail of the RH services. The High Court allowed the state to “deliver the full range of family planning services to the public” but limits the scope of its coverage.
The High Court’s decision said that “the State cannot oblige private hospitals and those owned by religious groups to refer patients to other facilities that offer reproductive health services.”
On top of this limitation, minors are also barred from availing of the family planning services without the guidance and permission of their parents.
In fact, even if the minors have already gone through the rigors of giving birth “or suffered a miscarriage” the SC requires them to have parental consent.
And while government workers “who refuse to provide RH services to patients” were supposed to be punished, it is not so anymore. The Supreme Court provided them with a just excuse.
The point here is that, in a country such as ours where the citizens are dominantly religious and Christians, or Catholic if you may, and which saw how the long-drawn “war” between the pro-RH and anti-RH groups had dragged on for months, coming up with a judgment on the law’s constitutionality or unconstitutionality is quite a difficult nut to crack.
But that the justices came up with a well-balanced decision is something that deserves due recognition by the Filipinos.
It’s rather amazing to consider how the legal minds of the High Court may have spent time and effort to come up with their collective decision. I am sure that very few among us expected that such kind of decision would be arrived at by the SC.
Not one of the contending parties may have anticipated that such a decision would be coming from the High Court. I was thinking of another word war and verbal tussle being fought in our media as a result of the decision.
But as it turned out, there has been silence among the contenders, and a deep sigh of relief from among the neutrals, or those who did not care about what the outcome would be. The decision, I like to think, has dissipated the pent-up rage in the contending groups that were only waiting for some kind of trigger to set it off their collective emotions.
Bravo, for the High Court!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 10, 2014.