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SC ends RH law arguments BY


POSTED ON 08/27/2013 8:12 PM | UPDATED 08/27/2013 9:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court ends hearing oral arguments for and against the Reproductive Health law. What happens next? Carmela Fonbuena reports. It's the fifth and final day of oral arguments here at the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health law. Both camps are confident. MARIA CONCEPCION NOCHE ANTI-RH LAWYER It is different from lobbying before congress, both Senate and House of Representatives. This is the last frontier and we are very hopeful that the justices will look into all issues. We keep are fingers crossed. EDCEL LAGMAN FORMER ALBAY REPRESENTATIVE We think that the fight is nearing finish line and we will be sustained by the Supreme Court. Finally, the Filipino people will reap the benefits of the RH law. The discussion goes back to the question: Does the RH law violate freedom of religion? But the biggest debate since Day 1 revolved around the question: Are contraceptives abortifacients? The Catholic Church maintain they are abortifacients. MARIA CONCEPCION NOCHE ANTI-RH LAWYER We have always felt that this is the issue here is about life. This is about right to life from the moment of conception. I think that's the most important issue and the most compelling issue we brought out and argued. It's mostly a repeat of the arguments raised in the last 13 years in Congress. Page 1 of 2

EDCEL LAGMAN FORMER ALBAY REPRESENTATIVE The arguments of the public respondents private intervenors were strongly anchored on the unequivocal provisions of law and medical and empirical researches. Petitioners based feebly on religious dogma and imagined fears. Emotions are high at the Supreme Court as it was in Congress. Lawyers against the law say government funding of contraceptives violates the constitutional right to life and the law of God. RH law advocates disagree, insisting the law in fact preserves the lives of mothers and teenagers exposed to unwanted pregnancies. Critics of the RH law were the first to present their arguments. They were grilled for hours by justices perceived to be in favor of the RH law. When it was the turn of the RH law advocates to present their side, justices perceived to be against the law asked the tough questions. What happens now? Both camps will submit their memoranda. it will be discussed in an en banc session, and the justices will finally decide. MARIA CONCEPCION NOCHE ANTI-RH LAWYER We don't really know when the SC is going to come out with its decisions. Normally we will be given a minimum of 30 days. We will probably ask for even more than that so that we can prepare for the our memorandum very well. The fate of the Reproductive Health law is now in the hands of 15 Supreme Court Justices. It's not an easy task. The Chief Justice herself asked: can the supreme court reverse a policy made by the legislative and the executive? Or should the justices exercise judicial restraint? Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila.

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