By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
(MANILA, C-FAM) Senator Vicente C. Sotto III, one of the most popular and beloved politicians in the Philippines, is using all his clout to fight the latest attempt of the global abortion lobby to change his countries’ laws to open the door for unfettered abortion. He has made it his “mission”.
A bill, commonly known as the Reproductive Rights Bill or RH Bill, is currently undergoing an amendment process in the Philippine Legislature. The same bill has been rejected five times under different names, and as recently as 2010. The bill has made it to the amendments stage this time. President Aquino is backing the bill and the odds seemed to be stacked against the life of the unborn.
The bill would institute a comprehensive reproductive health regime and among other things legalize abortifacient drugs, provide free contraceptive services, require doctors to perform sterilization procedures, and provide mandatory sexual education for children beginning in 5th grade.
Senator Sotto, leader of the Senate majority, and renowned as an incorruptible crime fighter, evened the stakes when he made this battle against the abortion lobby personal. He has celebrity status in the Philippines. Both his wife and daughter are popular actresses, and Senator Sotto himself had a successful career in the music business before running for office.
On August 13, during his speech against the Bill on the Senate floor, he wept inconsolably as he recounted the death of his first child from a weak heart when the child was only five months old. The death, doctors have told him, was the result of the use of hormonal contraceptives. He added that his son “died August 13, 1975. He died 37 years ago today.” He characterized the fight against this bill as his “mission from God.”
Senator Sotto’s speech, delivered during the turno en contra, which is similar to a filibuster in the US Senate, denounced the global abortion lobby, stating that the RH Bill would “violate Philippine sovereignty, the Philippine Constitution and existing penal laws”, as well as “transgresses Filipino culture and family values.”
He accused the proponents of the bill of working with the assistance of USAID, and relying on grossly exaggerated maternal mortality data from the Guttmacher Institute, which he said had a record “that is to control population and not to deal with health concerns”, and whose figures were contradicted by the WHO. He was adamant that “we cannot simply rely on these questionable institutions to provide the statistics for us.”
He also cited scientific evidence showing how the RH Bill would harm the health of women and the unborn, as well as legalize abortifacient drugs, without resulting in any improvements for women’s health.
The Global abortion lobby has been trying desperately to open the door to abortion in the Philippines for over twenty years without success. While the bill has made it farther than on any previous occasion, Senator Sotto’s speech and popular clamor against the bill give pro-lifers cause for hope. In fact, current amendment proposals dampen the effect of the bill, signaling that the bill has now less support than its proponents initially thought even among politicians, and that opposition to the bill will not go away easily.
Stefano Gennarini is Director of the Center for Legal Studies at the Catholic Family and Human Right Institute (C-FAM). Her article first appeared in FridayFax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM. C-FAM is a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org).