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Senator challenges anti-abortion bill

Constitution 'must uphold separation of Church and state', lawmaker claims

Senator challenges anti-abortion bill
A child in front of an anti-reproductive health bill poster
Ernie Reyes, reporter, Manila

May 31, 2011

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A legislator said three bills filed in Congress to protect unborn children are "unconstitutional" because these will legislate the views of the Catholic Church. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said yesterday that the constitution upholds separation of Church and state. The authors of the bills "are trying to enact legislation that establishes the views of the Catholic Church hierarchy," the senator said. "Government officials should uphold our constitution, which guarantees the separation of Church and state and non-establishment of religion," she added. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, however, said the bill is the "much anticipated and much welcomed fruition of the promise and mandate" of the constitution. Santiago said if the "unborn child" bills become law, pregnancies will be riskier for women because it prohibits procedures that put the unborn child's life at risk. She said that instead of giving mothers, their family, and their doctors options, the bills "will transfer the difficult choices to a distant, cold, and inflexible law." The proposals call for stiffer penalties against abortion, which is already prohibited. Catholics have been pushing for the passing of an "unborn child bill" and Rene Bullecer, country director of Human Life International, said his group is supporting it "with all means and at all costs." "It strengthens the existing anti-abortion law in our country as stated in the revised penal code and the 1987 constitution," he said. Bullecer said the bill "will put to rest" the RH bill. The proposed bill recognizes the unborn child as a human being with a distinct human personality and the right to life and to be accorded the maximum protection of the state and its laws. The bill also focuses on protecting the unborn child from substances or devices used to induce abortion, abortive acts and practices that induce abortion with or without consent of the mother. "It is about time that we Filipinos must be serious in the implementation of our existing anti-abortion laws," said Bullecer. PM14348

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