September 11, 2011
Pia says RH Bill won’t open ‘back road’ for legalized abortion, explains provision on ‘post-abortive care’
Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said that the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill will not lead to the legalization of abortion, nor serve as a ‘back road’ for legalized abortion services, adding that this was an unfounded fear among the measure’s critics that should be clarified.
“The intent of the RH Bill is to uphold the Constitution and in no way tolerate or allow abortion to come in through the back road or behind the scene,” stressed Cayetano, principal sponsor of Senate Bill No.2865, or the proposed ‘National Reproductive Health Act of 2011.’
One provision that has been questioned by RH Bill opponents is Section 3, the measure’s ‘Guiding Principles for Implementation,’ particularly paragraphs (i) and (j), which read:
“Section 3, (i) While this Act does not amend the penal law on abortion, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.
“Section 3, (j) Each family shall have the right to determine its ideal family size, Provided, however, That the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information to all aspects of family life, including reproductive health, in order to make that determination.”
Concerns about these provisions were articulated on the Senate floor by Majority Leader Senator Vicente Sotto III at the continuation of the chamber’s plenary debates on SBN 2865 last week. After raising issues on the alleged ‘sinister motives’ of non-government organizations (NGOs) in supporting the RH Bill, Sotto also warned how these groups could take advantage of supposed ‘openings’ in these provisions to push for legalized abortion.
“To me, they are pushing for this bill because they will inculcate in us that certain means of abortion are medically safe procedures, feasible, and will eventually be considered legal. Parang ganoon po ang dating. Ang kinakabahan po ako, mayroon po tayong bukas na mga pintuan doon sa ating RH bill na version,” Sotto said.
Interpreting Section 3, paragraphs (i) and (j), he asked: “Now, Mr. President, if enacted into law, will this mean that if a certain family wants only two children but the mother will become pregnant, the State shall equip that parent with the means to abort the child?”
To which Cayetano replied: “There is nothing here [in paragraph (j)] that says abortion will be given as an option to a family. That is absurd, that is not a logical conclusion.”
“Mr. President, I have to say I think the answer is obvious. We [sponsors] made it very clear that it is not. So let us not read into the bill what is not in the bill. I have made it very clear in the sponsorship speech in the provision that preceded this section [Sec.3, paragraph (i)], it is very clear. So let us not read into the bill what is not in the bill.”
Cayetano then proceeded to explain SBN 2865’s provision mandating medical care to women suffering from post-abortion complications [Sec.3, paragraph (j)]. She drew a parallel situation: When in a shootout, a pursuing cop who shoots and hurts an escaping criminal would still be duty-bound to bring the latter to a medical facility to receive emergency care in order to save his life, or the cop would face possible charges himself.
“In fact, if a police officer or a medical officer treated [the criminal] inhumanely, they would be called upon for their inhumane and unethical conduct,” she emphasized.
Relating her analogy to several documented reports where women with post-abortion complications had been denied of emergency medical care in certain hospitals, she continued: “It shocks me that there are people who believe that women who have gone through an abortion need to be treated like criminals because they have committed an act which is defined as a crime in our country.”
“In fact in many hospitals they are treated badly, they are pushed around to the side. In fact, some of them will bleed to death because they will not even be attended to, to punish them for that crime. And I will fight for the right of this woman to have the care that she needs because the emotional, psychological trauma that goes through to have an abortion is something that we, who have not been through an abortion, can never understand and she deserves that from the State.”
On this point, Sotto agreed: “Yes, Mr. President, I do agree. As a matter of fact, I will be by the Sponsor’s side in defending that woman.”
To which Cayetano replied: “Then we have no problem.”
Rounding up her clarifications on the two provisions raised by the Majority Leader, Cayetano reiterated that she and SBN 2865 principal author Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago were open to amendments from other senators to further strengthen the bill at the proper time.
“Mr. President, before we proceed, may I just put on record that we do appreciate the provisions that the Majority leader pointed out which may possibly be misinterpreted. We would like to put on record that I personally, as the Sponsor of the bill, believe that it is part of the legislative process that these provisions which our colleagues feel may be lacking in strength or clarity be strengthened.
“So at the proper time we will be more than happy to accept the amendments by the Majority Floor Leader or any other of our colleagues to strengthen the bill, which they believe may be subject to misinterpretation. Thank you,” she concluded. #