Health advocates urge SC to vote in favor of RH Law
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - March 20, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Health advocates yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to rule in favor of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law when it holds its summer session in Baguio City on April 8.

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral said the country missed the chance to implement reproductive health programs in the past year due to a status quo ante order issued by the SC.

Cabral said these programs would have helped prevent deaths of some 5,000 women from pregnancy and childbearing-related conditions during the period.

“It’s been a year since the law was enacted but until now, it has not been implemented. So instead of celebrating (its anniversary), we are mourning the death of those who died from maternal complications,” she said.

Citing estimates by the family health survey, Cabral said 15 women die everyday from maternal complications. Of the number, 10 percent were teen-agers.

Congress approved the law in December 2012, but the SC stopped its implementation due to 15 petitions questioning its constitutionality.

To boost calls for the approval of the law, some 1,000 women, most of them pregnant, will hold a protest rally in front of the SC building in Manila on March 28.

Proponents and supporters of the RH Law will also hold rallies in Baguio City where the justices will deliberate on the legislation and other pending cases next month.

Percival Cendaña of the National Youth Commission said they would distribute violet streamers and posters around the city to dramatize their demand.

Violet is the color that symbolizes women and reproductive health.

Cendaña said the high court should approve the law as the absence of a national policy on reproductive health affects the youth.

He said the lack of information and services makes the youth vulnerable to risky behavior.

“The one year delay in the implementation of the RH Law has catastrophic consequences on the lives of young people. The youth have the right to understand their bodies and know how they can take care of themselves,” he said.

Cendaña described as baseless the fear of the anti-RH sectors that the law would only expose the youth to sexual practices, saying they could still learn about it through the Internet.

“The youth have the right to understand their bodies and know how they can take care of themselves. They are capable of making responsible decisions if they are given the right information and guidance.”

Romeo Dongeto, executive director of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, urged the SC to uphold, recognize and respect the landmark legislation.

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