77% of Filipinos view RH law as legal

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Monday, April 7, 2014

BAGUIO CITY -- Most Filipinos favor the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey show.

The survey was released a day before the Supreme Court (SC) hands down its ruling on the constitutionality of the controversial measure in its summer session here.

In the survey conducted among 1,200 adults, the SWS found out that 77 percent viewed the RH law as constitutional, while 72 percent said they are in favor of its passage, up 9 percent from the previous poll taken weeks before President Benigno Aquino III enacted it in December 2012.

The survey stated that 14 percent were undecided and 13 percent expressed opposition.

If the SC will uphold the RH law, 84 percent agree that the government should provide free supply or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method.

Majority of the respondents (59 percent) are married, 96 percent belong to the poor and the poorest of the poor, and 73 percent have educational attainments ranging from elementary to college undergraduate.

Around 7 in 10 Filipinos (68 percent) said they are aware of the measure, which seeks to guarantee universal access to reproductive health and maternal care programs.

The poll was conducted from March 27 to 30. Pro-RH group Forum for Family Planning and Development paid for the survey, which has a margin of error of ±3 percent.

Enacted in December 2012, the RH law has yet to be implemented due to the status quo ante order (SQAO) issued by the High Court in March 2013.

All 14 petitions against the law follow the arguments of the Catholic Church, calling it an affront to the constitutional principles on abortion, religious freedom and marriage.

In Manila, Akbayan Representative Barry Gutierrez said some of the contentious provisions include the definition of abortifacient where contraception is not abortion, penalties for "conscientious objectors" or health professionals who refuse to perform RH services and/or refer a patient to another health care service provider, and inclusion of reproductive health education.

"The high tribunal cannot afford to play politics over the lives of women and their children who are at great risk of becoming victims of high and unmitigated maternal mortality rates, unwanted teenage pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases," Gutierrez, a former University of the Philippines (UP) law professor, said in a press briefing.

A newspaper report said the SC justices are bent on declaring most of the law's provisions as constitutional.

The head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Monday that they will continue to teach the faithful to value life in case the SC rules in favor of the RH law.

"You should just explore all legal options, but even if RH law, which is theoretical if with or without the SC's decision, it is the duty of the Church to be teaching life our duty does not depend on civil laws, our duties comes from God so with or without the law..." said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas in an interview.

The High Court is set to issue on April 8 a decision on the constitutionality of Republic Act 10354, an Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health. (With FP/Sunnex)

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