A Catholic lay organization has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare unconstitutional Republic Act No. 10354, known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or the RH law.
Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC FFL), a Philippine-based Catholic charismatic lay community that emphasizes family life renewal and evangelization, filed the 12th petition yesterday against the new law. In a 52-page petition, CFC FFL through its lawyer, Luis Francis Rodrigo Jr., also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the RH law.
In its petition, the CCFI said the new law violates the Filipinos’ right to free exercise of religion and right to free speech and expression.
“Despite his religious beliefs, a health care service provider is compelled by the RH Law, under threat of imprisonment, to refer his patient to another health care service provider who may be willing to prescribe artificial contraception,” the petition stated.
“Such coercion constitutes an unreasonable restraint on the right of the Catholic health care service provider to exercise his religion, which includes the right not to refer the patient at all,” it added.
RA 10354 provides that any health care service provider who will withhold information or provide incorrect information regarding RH programs and services will be penalized by imprisonment ranging one month to six months or a fine of P10,000 to P100,000 or both.
At the same time, CFC FFL said RA 10354 is unconstitutional as it compels a health care service provider who believes in the natural method of family planning to refer his client to another health care service provider who backs RH programs. The new law also violates the equal protection clause as it discriminates against the poor by making sex education mandatory only in public schools, it added.
The SC had scheduled oral arguments on June 18 but was reset to July 9 on the cases and had summoned the lawyers of all the parties to a preliminary conference on June 6 to lay down the issues that would be tackled in the arguments
There are now 12 petitions against RA 10354. The lead petition was filed by James M. Imbong and Lovely-Ann C. Imbong and Magnificat Child Development Center. The other petitioners against the law were the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc. [ALFI]; Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, Inc. and Valeriano S. Avila; Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City Inc.; Expedito A. Bugarin, Jr.; Eduardo B. Olaguer and Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines; Philippine Alliance of XSeminarians, Inc.; Reynaldo J. Echavez; Spouses Francisco S. Tatad and Maria Fenny C. Tatad; Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc; and taxpayers John Walter Juat, Mary Imbong, Anthony Victorio Lumicao, Joseph Martin Verdejo, Antonio Emma Roxas, and Lota Lat-Guerrero.