Mothers with their newborns wait for checkups at a hospital in Manila. Both houses of the Philippine congress have passed the Reproductive Health bill. CNS photo Mothers with their newborns wait for checkups at a hospital in Manila. Both houses of the Philippine congress have passed the Reproductive Health bill. CNS photo

The Philippine Reproductive Health bill ‘is against the goodness of family, the stability of marriage’.

– Msgr Joselito Asis, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

MANILA – Philippine Catholic leaders said they would appeal to the Supreme Court if the Reproductive Health Bill – versions of which passed the House and Senate on Dec 17 – gets signed into law.

During a news conference on Dec 18, Msgr Joselito Asis, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said if President Benigno Aquino later signs the legislation into law, the bishops would support an appeal by Catholic lawyers who claim it is unconstitutional.

“The RH bill is against the goodness of family, the stability of marriage,” Msgr Asis said. He explained that in other countries the ready availability of contraceptives had resulted in “promiscuity, premarital sex and extramarital affairs”.

In the Philippines, contraceptives are widely available, but they are not supplied by the government.

The Senate and House have come together on bills that call for a number of provisions, including government-sanctioned family planning education for adults as well as middle and high school-age youth, and contraception for the poor to be fully covered by government health insurance.

While abortion is illegal in the Philippines, the bills mandate that hospitals and clinics give medical care to women who have had abortions.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, vice president of the bishops’ conference, said in a statement that “conscience was stifled” during the final votes.

“If the president will sign this into law, he will give us a moral time bomb wrapped as a gift to celebrate Christmas,” he said. “This law will open more doors to abortion and more crimes against women.”

The proposals had gone through multiple versions as lawmakers spent more than 14 years trying to pass such legislation. Some versions got past earlier readings only to fail at voting time. Others never made it out of committee.

Throughout the debates, the prominent voice of the Catholic Church opposed any form of it. - CNS


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