"x x x.
The Supreme Court (SC) has set a dangerous precedent in striking down key provisions of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Law or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, according to Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
In his dissenting opinion, Leonen said the SC decision empowers the dominant Catholic Church to impose its doctrines over other religions.
The youngest member of the SC contested the majority ruling declaring as unconstitutional the mandatory referral systems in Section 17 and Section 23, paragraph (a) (3) of the law.
Leonen believes that the ruling, which cited as basis the right of religion of the doctor or health care provider, “implicitly imposes a religious belief on the patient.”
“It is also not clear in the ponencia whether the provisions on referral by conscientious objectors are declared unconstitutional for all religions or only for specific ones... If the declaration is for all religions, then this might just result in violation of the non-establishment clause. A dominant majoritarian religion is now aided in imposing its beliefs not only on patients but also on all those who have different faiths,” he explained.
“This is the natural result for speculative cases. This is dangerous constitutional precedent,” he added.
Leonen said the majority should have considered the impact of their ruling on a religion that is not the minority.
“Invocations of religious freedom can be a disguised way of imposing the dominant faith on others,” he said.
Leonen also dissented from the majority decision to declare unconstitutional Section 23(a)(2)(i), which allows married individuals to undergo reproductive health procedures without the consent of the spouse.
“The majority interprets the privacy and autonomy of the family as also providing insulation of patriarchal or sexist practices from state scrutiny. This is not what the Constitution intends,” he said.
He said the ruling was based on “speculative facts.”
x x x."