Rights groups slam RH law suspension

Court decision could put women at risk, they claim
ucanews.com reporter, Manila
March 20, 2013
Human rights groups reacted angrily on Wednesday to a Supreme Court ruling that suspended the implementation of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

The Philippine’s highest court on Tuesday issued a 120-day temporary restraining order, citing the need to review petitions opposing the legislation.

The law, which would allow artificial contraception, was due to go into effect on March 31.

Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, noted that a four-month delay in the implementation of the law is "a long time for an interim order."

"The Supreme Court is putting an untold number of women and girls at unnecessary risk," Adams said, adding that "Filipino women and families have waited and suffered long enough."

Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, director of the Institute of Human Rights at the University of the Philippines, said the court decision is "particularly insulting that it comes during women's month."

"We are concerned that yet another delay will add to the death count of women dying in the act of giving life," Pangalangan said.

According to Philippine government data, there are 14 maternal deaths a day because of a lack of basic reproductive health services.

This means 1,680 women will die in the 120 days that the order is effective, Pangalangan said.

Church leaders, however, welcomed the decision calling it a temporary victory but said the fight is not yet over.

"Never give up hope. We do not give up for what we believe is right. The Lord is always with us, always siding with what is right,” said Bishop Carlito Cenzon of Baguio.

The Catholic Church opposes the law which it branded "anti-life" and "anti-family" for promoting artificial contraceptives.

Fr Melvin Castro, head of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the bishops' conference, called on Catholics to be more active in campaigning against it.

The Supreme Court appeared to have "listened to our prayers against any law that’s questionable and which, according to the constitution, should not be implemented," Fr Castro said.

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