The law, which was passed in December 2013, allows for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill also enforces "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.
“The Church must continue to uphold the sacredness of human life, to teach always the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the life of every human person from conception to natural death,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan wrote. The Philippine prelate also serves as president of the Philippine episcopal conference.
Archbishop Villegas noted, however, that while the constitutionality of the law was upheld, several major divisive points of the law were deemed unconstitutional. Among the provisions that were struck down were penalties against health care providers who, citing religious beliefs, refuse to provide contraception. Other provisions that were deemed unconstitutional were access to birth control for minors without parental consent and punishments against public officers who do not support the RH law.
“Although the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the RH law, it has truly watered down the RH law and consequently upheld the importance of adhering to an informed religious conscience even among government workers. It has also stood on the side of the rights of parents to teach their children,” the archbishop said.
“We cannot see eye-to-eye with our pro-RH brethren on this divisive issue but we can work hand-in-hand for the good of the country," he continued.
Archbishop Villegas concluded his statement encouraging the Catholic faithful to continue to teach what is “right and moral."
“Through 2,000 years, the Church has lived in eras of persecution, authoritarian regimes, wars and revolutions,” he wrote. “The Church can continue its mission even with such unjust laws. Let us move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love. We have a positive message to proclaim.” (J.A.E.)