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Duty to safeguard, protect and respect health and life

opinion / Latest Opinion
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Duty to safeguard, protect and respect health and life

01:04 AM July 20, 2015

THIS IS a reply to the Inquirer editorial, “Delaying tactics” (7/9/15).

The Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (Alfi) respects the rule of law. It exercises its legitimate right to seek judicial relief through legal means. It has chosen the Supreme Court as the proper venue for legal discourse on issues of transcendental significance. It will not and does not delve into created issues premised on conjectures and underhanded allegations.

By a vote of 14-1, the Court voided as unconstitutional the implementing rules and regulations of the Reproductive Health Law (RH-IRR) on “abortifacient” and “contraceptive,” because they would effectively “open the floodgates” to the approval of abortifacients.

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The Court recognized the definition of “abortifacient” under the RH Law as “any drug or device that induces abortion, that is, which kills or destroys the fertilized ovum or prevents the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb.”

The RH-IRR posted on the Department of Health website to serve as guidelines of DOH personnel in the implementation of the RH Law still contain the sections that have been declared unconstitutional. This is disturbing.

The Court also pointed out that “not a single contraceptive has yet been submitted to the [Food and Drug Administration] pursuant to the RH Law,” and that contraceptive drugs and devices shall only be purchased by the DOH after they have been “tested, evaluated, and approved by the FDA” through a “proper scientific examination” and using the “constitutional yardstick” which the Court expounded on in its decision.

The Senate conditionally approved the budget of over P1 billion for contraceptive commodities on Nov. 24, 2014, subject to FDA certification that they are nonabortifacient and safe. On Nov. 27, 2014, the FDA registered or recertified some contraceptive drugs or devices.

The FDA registration and recertification were done with no clear and transparent procedure for determination of the safety and abortifacient or non-abortifacient character of the drugs or devices, and despite the opposition filed by Alfi, which was neither acted upon nor resolved. The opposition, which was amply supported by scientific evidence, showed the abortifacient character and harmful effects on health of the contraceptives. Despite this, the DOH proceeded to procure, distribute, administer, advertise and promote them.

The task imposed by the RH Law on the FDA is impressed with great public interest. The FDA has been entrusted with that sacred and bounden duty to protect the life of the unborn and the health of mothers.

The generations of countless unborn whose very life and future are at stake are completely defenseless and dependent on the DOH and the FDA. Therefore, the public and those who care enough to represent the unborn cannot be excluded or disregarded in the process. They have the right to know, and the DOH and the FDA have the obligation to provide, the information on the process or procedure used, the studies made, the actions taken, and the bases for the conclusions arrived at.

With regard to maternal deaths, contraception is a very inefficient way of reducing them. We may think we are saving a life but in the process we are actually sacrificing the equally valuable life of the unborn. The rational way to address such deaths is to provide good medical care to all mothers, especially the poor. After all, they do the most important work of ensuring humanity’s existence.

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We cannot have a blasé attitude toward life. We cannot deal with probabilities where life is at stake; we have to ensure that life is protected at every instance and at every moment. To this end, everyone has a duty, and no one has a choice but, to protect and defend life.

The Catholic Church has become a convenient “whipping dog” of those who espouse the opposite view. True, Pope Francis reminded the faithful to be merciful and compassionate. It is also true that the Pope, in his clear message to a crowd of 86,000 in Manila, enjoined the faithful to “be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.”

But the issue is not about religion, and we advance no religious arguments; it is about life and health which the state and its agencies are duty-bound to safeguard and protect, and respect for the Constitution.

If there is anything about the Catholic doctrine that Alfi is obsessed about, it is its commitment to the truth. That is exactly what its petitions are about—a steadfast quest for truth.

—BOARD OF TRUSTEES, ALLIANCE FOR THE FAMILY FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES INC.

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TAGS: Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc, health, nation, news
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