BAGUIO City, April 8, 2014— Church officials have claimed a “major victory” with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Reproductive Health law even if it upheld its constitutionality, calling the entire issue not a “lost cause.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines s (CBCP) said there is still reason to celebrate because the SC has struck down several “unconstitutional” provisions of the law.
“So if only for that, for me it’s a partial, but a major victory nonetheless,” said Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.
Partial victory, still a win
After SC spokesman Theodore Te announced the ruling earlier today, anti-RH advocates said they were still grateful that the High Court rejected several provisions they found highly objectionable.
Castro added, “So what happened today was not a failure. It was not a lost cause after all.”
He particularly lauded the SC for declaring unconstitutional part of Section 7 which requires health facilities owned by religious groups to provide family planning methods.
“The independence of Catholic hospitals for them to invoke their conscientious objection was strengthened,” he said.
The SC also junked contraceptives that may cause or induce abortion and the prohibition against health care providers who refuse to perform RH services.
“If only that we are happy, but [it is] still [a] partial [victory] because the P13 billion budget and the basic idea of imposition of RH is there but I’m glad that the conscientious objection was upheld,” he said.
As early as 8:00 a.m., several church-based and prolife groups gathered for a prayer rally outside the compound where SC justices were having their session.
Respect the SC
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the High Court has also “stood on the side of the rights of parents to teach their children” on matters of sexual health.
In a statement issued in behalf of the CBCP, Villegas said the RH law was significantly “watered down” by the SC’s ruling today.
The CBCP encouraged the faithful to maintain respect for the SC and its decision based on existing laws in the Philippines.
While the Church “cannot see eye-to-eye” with the proponents and supporters of the law, Villegas said, “We can work hand-in-hand for the good of the country”.
However, Villegas said the Church must continue to uphold the sacredness of human life and fight any efforts to destroy it.
“The Church must continue to uphold the sacredness of human life, to teach always the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the life of every human person from conception to natural death,” he said.
Spirit empowered disciples
According to Villegas, the Church must pursue its teachings on what is right and moral and continue to proclaim the “beauty and holiness of every human person”.
Through two thousand years, he said the Church has lived in eras of persecution, authoritarian regimes, wars and revolutions.
“The Church can continue its mission even with such unjust laws,” said Villegas.
“Let us move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to a truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love. We have a positive message to proclaim,” he added. (CBCPNews)