SC slammed for suspending implementation of RH law
MANILA, Philippines—With 14 Filipino mothers dying every day due to pregnancy complications, a respected international human rights organization and civil society groups on Wednesday scored a Supreme Court order stopping the implementation of the reproductive health law, saying it was putting at risk the lives of women in the country.
Human Rights Watch said the law, which was passed by Congress in December after 14 years of stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, was supposed to address the many grave health risks faced by Filipino women.
“By delaying implementation of the law for at least four months — a long time for an interim order — the Supreme Court is putting an untold number of women and girls at unnecessary risk,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch director for Asia.
“While we respect the judicial process in the Philippines, Filipino women and families have waited and suffered long enough,” he added.
In a joint statement, the University of the Philippines Law Center Institute of Human Rights and the UP Center for Women’s Studies said the high court order stopping the law for four months was “particularly insulting” since the country was observing Women’s Month.
“We are concerned that another delay will add to the death count of women dying in the act of giving life. Based on the Philippine government’s family health data, 14 maternal deaths a day occur because of the lack of basic reproductive health services,” the statement said.
“This amounts to 1,680 women who will die in the 120 days that the order is effective,” it added.
The high court issued a status quo ante order after Catholic lawyers questioned the constitutionality of the law.
“This latest step is just another indication of (the Church’s) refusal to heed the views of a majority of our people. It is sad that the Supreme Court should be instrumental in revoking human rights already claimed by our people under the RH law,” the statement said.
“There are times when legal processes and exhaustive measures no longer serve the purposes of democracy and social cohesion. Times when the hard institutional power of government and social entities must yield to the urgent needs of those most in need of succor,” it said.
“We were hoping the Supreme Court would have the wisdom to see that this is one of those instances.
We are not discouraged. The social movement that has coalesced to save women shall not stop,” it added.
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