[In the Web] Miriam’s RH speech on Reproductive Rights as Part of Human Rights


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, the main sponsor of the Senate Bill 2378 or "An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development." Photo from newsinfo.inquirer.net

Our topic is the nature of reproductive rights as part of the greater sum of human rights. In legal terms, human rights form the totality of the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values – specially at an international level – all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live.

In international law, the basic document is the non-binding but authoritative Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accompanied by the binding documents known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

In national or domestic law, the basic document is the Philippine Constitution, particularly Article 2 on Declaration of State Policies, and Article 3 on the Bill of Rights. Our Constitution, Art. 2 Sec. 15 specifically provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.” This right to health is now viewed as including the right to reproductive health.

Reproductive rights constitute the totality of a person’s constitutionally protected rights relating to the control of his or her procreative activities. Specifically, reproductive rights refer to the cluster of civil liberties relating to pregnancy, abortion, and sterilization, specially the personal bodily rights of a woman in her decision whether to become pregnant or bear a child.

The phrase “reproductive rights” includes the idea of being able to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. Human-rights scholars increasingly consider many reproductive rights to be protected by international human rights law.

When we speak of Philippine internal laws and politics, we are speaking of the so-called “horizontal” strand of the human rights movement. But as constitutionalism spreads among states, we now speak of the so-called “vertical strand” of the new international law, that is meant to bind states and that is implemented by the new international institutions. Filipino politicians seem to be aware only of the horizontal but not of the vertical dimension of the human rights movement.

 

Read full transcript at  http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2011/0915_santiago2.asp

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