Comments on the “unborn child” bills by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

The Senate bills of Senators Enrile, Estrada, Recto, and Revilla protecting the life of the so-called unborn erroneously equate contraception with abortion. They restrict access to contraceptives and increase the Revised Penal Code provisions on abortion.

  • Government officials should uphold our Constitution which guarantees the separation of church and state and non-establishment of religion.  Legislators who want to pass such protection of the unborn are trying to enact legislation that establishes the views of the Catholic Church hierarchy.
  • The Constitution, Article 2, Section 12 mandates: “The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception." Based on the above Constitutional provision, the unborn cannot be protected separately from its mother, otherwise the word "equally" loses all its sense and purpose, and the phrase becomes fractured and meaningless. Up until the period of fetal viability, the unborn cannot survive without the mother surviving as well. The Constitution and basic biological necessities inextricably links the life of the unborn with the life of its mother.
  • The proposed law will not initiate outlawing abortion, for abortion is already a crime under the Revised Penal Code of 1930.
  • The proposed law will make pregnancies even more risky for women. It will also remove decision-making during pregnancy complications away from the woman, her loved ones, and their health provider who are in the best position to balance the lives at stake and weigh the risks and consequences. It will transfer difficult choices to a distant, cold, and inflexible law. In effect, the proposed law will treat women as mere incubating machines to ensure the life of the unborn.
  • The key principle remains that the choice to risk maternal death belongs first and foremost to the mother. If the Protection of the Unborn Child Act is approved, risk-taking by mothers becomes mandatory and expectant management—until danger becomes imminent or the ectopic pregnancy resolves spontaneously—may become the norm preferred by physicians to avoid criminal prosecution.
  • Comprehensive reproductive health care—which among others include prenatal care, safe delivery through skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric and newborn care, the promotion of breastfeeding, family planning and sexuality education to prevent early pregnancies—is a program that will protect the interests of both the mother and her child.

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