21-March-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Philippines court temporarily stalls reproductive health law

The Philippine Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the implementation of a reproductive health law which was adopted in December despite vigorous opposition from the nation's Catholic bishops.

The court's March 19 decision to maintain the status quo ante for four months is not based on the merits of the case, but on practical grounds, and the merits will be considered in June.

"Practical because the court simply wants the parties 'not to make a move' while the court is going into the merits of the controversy itself," James Imbong, one of the petitioners in the case, told Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines News March 19.

The law mandates sex education in schools, and subsidizes contraceptives as part of a population control program.

The parties in the lawsuit over the law will present oral arguments to the court June 18, following the 10-5 decision to temporarily halt its implementation. The suit was brought by James and Lovely-Ann Imbong for themselves and on their childrens behalf, and by Magnificat Child Development Center.

The Imbongs' case was consolidated with a number of other suits over the reproductive health law.

One of the judges who opposed the decision to block the law's implementation until it is considered by the court wrote that "statutes enjoy the presumption of constitutionality."

Those who oppose the law argue that it offends religious belief, promotes immorality, and fosters abortion.

President Benigno Aquino III prioritized the law's passage, and says it is needed to reduce high birthrates among the poor. It mandates "age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education" from fifth grade through high school.

The bill includes a provision called discriminatory against the poor, which says, "the State shall also promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way."

The legislation was on the table for 14 years, but had been pressed by Aquino since his June 2010 election.

Both houses of the Philippine legislature passed it on Dec. 17, and Aquino signed it into law Dec. 21. The debate over the bill included accusations of corruption, bribery and threats to obtain the necessary votes.

A lawmaker from the impoverished Samar Island said funding for several relief projects for his district has been threatened if he did vote for the bill.

Bishop Pedro D. Arigo, vicar apostolic of Puerto Princesa, said during debate over the bill that it represents "money over principles, convenience over morality."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=7289#ixzz2ODLsblLq

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