In a victory for pro-life advocates, members of the Philippines Senate have deleted from the controversial RH Bill text that would legalize abortion in the Catholic nation.
In a move to break the stalemate over the bill, the Filipino Senate deleted provisions related to abortion and abortion-causing or birth control drugs.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Thursday said the upper chamber was evenly split 10-10 on the measure a day after contentious issues were addressed, with three senators still undecided. He disagreed with Senator Panfilo Lacson that 14 senators supported the bill in its current form.
“I will have to read it all over again, including the amendments,” Estrada said. “A lot of senators are still going to amend the provisions of the bill.”
Senator Pia Cayetano on Wednesday night moved for the deletion of an entire subsection in the Senate RH bill that Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said could be used to effectively legalize abortion in the country.
Cayetano also moved to amend the provision including certain family planning supplies and drugs in the government’s essential list of medicines.
Both committee amendments that Cayetano introduced on the floor “to put the issue to rest and allay fears that the RH bill will promote abortion” were adopted unanimously.
One amendment deleted the provision that said, “While this Act does not amend the penal law on abortion, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for postabortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner.”
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A new subsection was inserted saying that “abortion is a criminal act in accordance with existing laws,” said Cayetano, principal author of the bill which went into the period of amendments on Wednesday night after Sotto’s series of speeches blasting the proposed measure.
Leading pro-life groups and the Catholic Bishops have opposed the RH bill because it directly contradicts the protections of life and family guaranteed in the Constitution of the Philippines which states:
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. 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.
“Versions of this bill have been filed and re-filed in Congress since 1998, but through the efforts of the pro-life community, and because of prayers from around the world, it has failed every time,” Father Boquet of Human Life International has said.