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RH under fire: Religious freedom issue raised

LOCAL

By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated July 23, 2013 – 6:47pm

MANILA, Philippines – Arguing before the Supreme Court, petitioner Luistro Liban objected to the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Act, which he says “compels” individuals and institutions into distributing and accepting contraceptive methods.

Liban, a lawyer representing Catholic movement Couples for Christ Foundation, faced magistrates at the resumption of oral arguments on the constitutional basis of the controversial law Tuesday.

“In Section 23 (a) (3), for instance, the RH Law compels a conscientious objector to refer a person seeking reproductive health service to another health care provider. The same duty is found in Section 7, where the health care facility owned and operated by a religious group is also forced to refer the person to another health care facility,” Liban said, citing provisions of the RH measure or Republic Act 10354.

Liban explained that Catholic Church teaching forbids the use of contraceptives and practicing faithful may be compelled to accept contraception under the law.

Chief Justice Sereno countered that Liban may only be referring to “portions of the population” with deeply entrenched Catholic beliefs as many have espoused the use of contraception with fear of violating Catholic faith.

Liban answered that the provision covers Catholic-run hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to patients. Such hospitals, Liban said, are required under RH act to refer the patients to other facilities, violating Catholic ideals in the process.

Liban disapproved of the RH law’s provisions on “mandatory” sex education under the RH program.

The lawyer said that Section 14 of the law requiring sex education in public schools is a form of discrimination between children studying in private and state-run schools.

Liban said that the petitioners have approached the court to decide on the interpretation of the law.

Oral arguments will resume on August 6, Tuesday, at 2:00 pm.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/23/1004011/rh-under-fire-religious-freedom-issue-raised

 

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