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On the constitutionality of RA 10354/Reproductive Health

(RH) Law

1. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the right to life:

NO. Majority of the Members of the Court believe that the question
of when life begins is a scientific and medical issue that should not
be decided, at this stage, without proper hearing and evidence.
However, they agreed that individual Members could express their
own views on this matter.

Ponentes view (Justice Mendoza): Article II, Section 12 of the

Constitution states: The State recognizes the sanctity of family life
and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous
social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and
the life of the unborn from conception.

In its plain and ordinary meaning (a canon in statutory

construction), the traditional meaning of conception according to
reputable dictionaries cited by the ponente is that life begins at
fertilization. Medical sources also support the view that conception
begins at fertilization.

The framers of the Constitution also intended for (a) conception

to refer to the moment of fertilization and (b) the protection of the
unborn child upon fertilization. In addition, they did not intend to
ban all contraceptives for being unconstitutional; only those that kill
or destroy the fertilized ovum would be prohibited. Contraceptives
that actually prevent the union of the male sperm and female
ovum, and those that similarly take action before fertilization should
be deemed non-abortive, and thus constitutionally permissible.

The intent of the framers of the Constitution for protecting the life
of the unborn child was to prevent the Legislature from passing a
measure prevent abortion. The Court cannot interpret this
otherwise. The RH Law is in line with this intent and actually
prohibits abortion. By using the word or in defining abortifacient
(Section 4(a)), the RH Law prohibits not only drugs or devices that
prevent implantation but also those that induce abortion and induce
the destruction of a fetus inside the mothers womb. The RH Law
recognizes that the fertilized ovum already has life and that the
State has a bounded duty to protect it.

However, the authors of the IRR gravely abused their office when
they redefined the meaning of abortifacient by using the term
primarily. Recognizing as abortifacients only those that primarily
induce abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mothers
womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be
implanted in the mothers womb (Sec. 3.01(a) of the IRR) would
pave the way for the approval of contraceptives that may harm or
destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization. This
violates Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. For the same

reason, the definition of contraceptives under the IRR (Sec 3.01(j)),

which also uses the term primarily, must be struck down.

2. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the right to health

NO. Petitioners claim that the right to health is violated by the RH

Law because it requires the inclusion of hormonal contraceptives,
intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, nonabortifacient and effective family planning products and supplies in
the National Drug Formulary and in the regular purchase of
essential medicines and supplies of all national hospitals (Section 9
of the RH Law). They cite risks of getting diseases gained by using
e.g. oral contraceptive pills.

DOH must keep in mind the provisions of RA 4729: the

contraceptives it will procure shall be from a duly licensed drug
store or pharmaceutical company and that the actual distribution of
these contraceptive drugs and devices will be done following a
prescription of a qualified medical practitioner.

Meanwhile, the requirement of Section 9 of the RH Law is to be

considered mandatory only after these devices and materials
have been tested, evaluated and approved by the FDA. Congress
cannot determine that contraceptives are safe, legal, nonabortificient and effective.

3. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the freedom of religion and right to
free speech

Some petitioners do not question contraception and contraceptives

per se. Rather, they pray that the status quo under RA 4729 and
5921 be maintained. These laws prohibit the sale and distribution of
contraceptives without the prescription of a duly-licensed physician.

The Court cannot determine whether or not the use of

contraceptives or participation in support of modern RH measures
(a) is moral from a religious standpoint; or, (b) right or wrong
according to ones dogma or belief. However, the Court has the
authority to determine whether or not the RH Law contravenes the
Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

The RH Law does not intend to do away with RA 4729 (1966). With
RA 4729 in place, the Court believes adequate safeguards exist to
ensure that only safe contraceptives are made available to the
public. In fulfilling its mandate under Sec. 10 of the RH Law, the

a.) WON the RH Law violates the guarantee of religious freedom

since it mandates the State-sponsored procurement of

contraceptives, which contravene the religious beliefs of e.g. the


NO. The State may pursue its legitimate secular objectives without
being dictated upon the policies of any one religion. To allow
religious sects to dictate policy or restrict other groups would
violate Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution or the Establishment
Clause. This would cause the State to adhere to a particular
religion, and thus, establishes a state religion. Thus, the State can
enhance its population control program through the RH Law even if
the promotion of contraceptive use is contrary to the religious
beliefs of e.g. the petitioners.

b.) WON the RH Law violates the guarantee of religious freedom by

compelling medical health practitioners, hospitals, and health care
providers, under pain of penalty, to refer patients to other
institutions despite their conscientious objections

YES. Sections 7, 23, and 24 of the RH Law obliges a hospital or

medical practitioner to immediately refer a person seeking health
care and services under the law to another accessible healthcare
provider despite their conscientious objections based on religious or
ethical beliefs. These provisions violate the religious belief and
conviction of a conscientious objector. They are contrary to Section
29(2), Article VI of the Constitution or the Free Exercise Clause,
whose basis is the respect for the inviolability of the human

The provisions in the RH Law compelling non-maternity specialty

hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group
and health care service providers to refer patients to other
providers and penalizing them if they fail to do so (Sections 7 and
23(a)(3)) as well as compelling them to disseminate information
and perform RH procedures under pain of penalty (Sections 23(a)(1)
and (a)(2) in relation to Section 24) also violate (and inhibit) the
freedom of religion. While penalties may be imposed by law to
ensure compliance to it, a constitutionally-protected right must
prevail over the effective implementation of the law.

Excluding public health officers from being conscientious objectors

(under Sec. 5.24 of the IRR) also violates the equal protection
clause. There is no perceptible distinction between public health
officers and their private counterparts. In addition, the freedom to
believe is intrinsic in every individual and the protection of this
freedom remains even if he/she is employed in the government.
Using the compelling state interest test, there is no compelling
state interest to limit the free exercise of conscientious objectors.
There is no immediate danger to the life or health of an individual in
the perceived scenario of the above-quoted provisions. In addition,
the limits do not pertain to life-threatening cases.

The respondents also failed to show that these provisions are least
intrusive means to achieve a legitimate state objective. The
Legislature has already taken other secular steps to ensure that the

right to health is protected, such as RA 4729, RA 6365 (The

Population Act of the Philippines) and RA 9710 (The Magna Carta of

c.) WON the RH Law violates the guarantee of religious freedom by

requiring would-be spouses, as a condition for the issuance of a
marriage license, to attend a seminar on parenthood, family
planning, breastfeeding and infant nutrition

NO. Section 15 of the RH Law, which requires would-be spouses to

attend a seminar on parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding
and infant nutrition as a condition for the issuance of a marriage
license, is a reasonable exercise of police power by the government.
The law does not even mandate the type of family planning
methods to be included in the seminar. Those who attend the
seminar are free to accept or reject information they receive and
they retain the freedom to decide on matters of family life without
the intervention of the State.

4. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the right to privacy (marital privacy
and autonomy)

YES. Section 23(a)(2)(i) of the RH Law, which permits RH procedures

even with only the consent of the spouse undergoing the provision
(disregarding spousal content), intrudes into martial privacy and
autonomy and goes against the constitutional safeguards for the
family as the basic social institution. Particularly, Section 3, Article
XV of the Constitution mandates the State to defend: (a) the right of
spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious
convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood and (b) the
right of families or family associations to participate in the planning
and implementation of policies and programs that affect them. The
RH Law cannot infringe upon this mutual decision-making, and
endanger the institutions of marriage and the family.

The exclusion of parental consent in cases where a minor

undergoing a procedure is already a parent or has had a
miscarriage (Section 7 of the RH Law) is also anti-family and
violates Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution, which states: The
natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the
youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character
shall receive the support of the Government. In addition, the
portion of Section 23(a)(ii) which reads in the case of minors, the
written consent of parents or legal guardian or, in their absence,
persons exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be
required only in elective surgical procedures is invalid as it denies
the right of parental authority in cases where what is involved is
non-surgical procedures.

However, a minor may receive information (as opposed to

procedures) about family planning services. Parents are not

deprived of parental guidance and control over their minor child in

this situation and may assist her in deciding whether to accept or
reject the information received. In addition, an exception may be
made in life-threatening procedures.

The provisions of Section 14 of the RH Law and corresponding

provisions of the IRR supplement (rather than supplant) the right
and duties of the parents in the moral development of their

5. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the freedom of expression and
academic freedom

By incorporating parent-teacher-community associations, school

officials, and other interest groups in developing the mandatory RH
program, it could very well be said that the program will be in line
with the religious beliefs of the petitioners.

NO. The Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of Section 14

of the RH Law, which mandates the State to provide Age-and
Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. Although
educators might raise their objection to their participation in the RH
education program, the Court reserves its judgment should an
actual case be filed before it.

Any attack on its constitutionality is premature because the

Department of Education has not yet formulated a curriculum on
age-appropriate reproductive health education.

Section 12, Article II of the Constitution places more importance on

the role of parents in the development of their children with the use
of the term primary. The right of parents in upbringing their youth
is superior to that of the State.

6. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the due process clause

NO. The RH Law does not violate the due process clause of the
Constitution as the definitions of several terms as observed by the
petitioners are not vague.

The definition of private health care service provider must be

seen in relation to Section 4(n) of the RH Law which defines a
public health service provider. The private health care
institution cited under Section 7 should be seen as synonymous to
private health care service provider.

The terms service and methods are also broad enough to

include providing of information and rendering of medical

procedures. Thus, hospitals operated by religious groups are

exempted from rendering RH service and modern family planning
methods (as provided for by Section 7 of the RH Law) as well as
from giving RH information and procedures.

The RH Law also defines incorrect information. Used together in

relation to Section 23 (a)(1), the terms incorrect and knowingly
connote a sense of malice and ill motive to mislead or misrepresent
the public as to the nature and effect of programs and services on
reproductive health.

7. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause

NO. To provide that the poor are to be given priority in the

governments RH program is not a violation of the equal protection
clause. In fact, it is pursuant to Section 11, Article XIII of the
Constitution, which states that the State shall prioritize the needs of
the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children
and that it shall endeavor to provide medical care to paupers.

The RH Law does not only seek to target the poor to reduce their
number, since Section 7 of the RH Law prioritizes poor and
marginalized couples who are suffering from fertility issues and
desire to have children. In addition, the RH Law does not prescribe
the number of children a couple may have and does not impose

conditions upon couples who intend to have children. The RH Law

only seeks to provide priority to the poor.

The exclusion of private educational institutions from the

mandatory RH education program under Section 14 is valid. There
is a need to recognize the academic freedom of private educational
institutions especially with respect to religious instruction and to
consider their sensitivity towards the teaching of reproductive
health education.

8. Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is

unconstitutional for violating the prohibition against involuntary

NO. The requirement under Sec. 17 of the RH Law for private and
non-government health care service providers to render 48 hours of
pro bono RH services does not amount to involuntary servitude, for
two reasons. First, the practice of medicine is undeniably imbued
with public interest that it is both the power and a duty of the State
to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public
welfare. Second, Section 17 only encourages private and nongovernment RH service providers to render pro bono service.
Besides the PhilHealth accreditation, no penalty is imposed should
they do otherwise.

However, conscientious objectors are exempt from Sec. 17 as long

as their religious beliefs do not allow them to render RH service, pro
bono or otherwise (See Part 3b of this digest.)

B. WON the delegation of authority to the Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) to determine WON a supply or product is to be
included in the Essential Drugs List is valid
NO. The delegation by Congress to the FDA of the power to
determine whether or not a supply or product is to be included in
the Essential Drugs List is valid, as the FDA not only has the power
but also the competency to evaluate, register and cover health
services and methods (under RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 or
the FDA Act of 2009).

C. WON the RH Law infringes upon the powers devolved to Local

Governments and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

NO. The RH Law does not infringe upon the autonomy of local
governments. Paragraph (c) of Section 17 provides a categorical
exception of cases involving nationally-funded projects, facilities,
programs and services. Unless a local government unit (LGU) is
particularly designated as the implementing agency, it has no
power over a program for which funding has been provided by the
national government under the annual general appropriations act,
even if the program involves the delivery of basic services within
the jurisdiction of the LGU.
In addition, LGUs are merely encouraged to provide RH services.
Provision of these services are not mandatory. Therefore, the RH
Law does not amount to an undue encroachment by the national
government upon the autonomy enjoyed by LGUs.
Article III, Sections 6, 10, and 11 of RA 9054 or the Organic Act of
the ARMM merely delineates the powers that may be exercised by
the regional government. These provisions cannot be seen as an
abdication by the State of its power to enact legislation that would
benefit the general welfare.