Commission on Human Rights Opposes Abortion Decriminalization

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has taken a clear stance against the decriminalization of abortion, issuing a response to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s recent criticisms. In an official letter sent to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, CHR asserted its commitment to the paramount right to life. The commission explicitly adheres to the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which equally protects the lives of both the mother and the unborn, except in extreme circumstances.

The controversy unfolded during the Senate’s discussion on CHR’s proposed budget for 2024. Senator Cayetano expressed disappointment with an earlier statement from CHR Executive Director Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, who advocated for the decriminalization of abortion. Cayetano argued that the Constitution unequivocally mandates the government to equally protect the lives of the mother and the unborn from conception, and CHR, as a constitutional body, has no authority to take a stance contrary to that mandate.

Senator Cayetano urged CHR to clarify its stand on abortion during the Senate session, emphasizing the uniqueness of the Philippine Constitution’s position on life beginning at conception. He questioned why there was no outcry from the commission regarding the executive director’s statement.

The Senate, including Senate President Zubiri, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, collectively expressed concern over CHR’s stance and deferred the discussion on the commission’s budget until a clear and constitutionally aligned statement on abortion was provided.

In response to the Senate’s concerns, CHR has now officially communicated its anti-abortion position in a letter to Zubiri. With this clarification, the upper chamber is poised to resume discussions on CHR’s budget on Monday, ensuring that the commission’s stance on abortion aligns with constitutional principles.


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