Imagine a woman with life-threatening pregnancy, a girl impregnated and abused by a man, a woman who have unplanned and unhealthy pregnancy, a pregnancy unsupported by a partner! What would you do if you were in the shoes of these women who might risk their lives from pregnancies that might be risky or unexpected at all? Would you be happy if your country does not give you access to safer way of getting medical attention and treatment on these concerns? Would you risk your life to medically incompetent practitioners to end these threatening pregnancies, if a qualified and competent doctor could do so? Would you resort to abortion?
Abortion -a word full of controversy and long contested issue; not only in the Philippines but globally. Yes-it ends a pregnancy, it ends the coming of a new life, but who would also say that it saves lives of many women? None. Maybe, a few of us! Abortion -a medical procedure, a basic healthcare need for thousands to millions of women across the globe. However, is it available in our country? Yes, it is. But is it legal? It is not! Why is that so? That is because of misinformation about its nature. Regardless of Philippine laws restricting and criminalizing the practice of abortion, abortion is still existing and many women are accessing abortion services.
Abortion: Facts and Reality
Did you know that criminalizing abortion does not stop abortions? It is true, it does not. It only makes abortion unsafe, and it does not reduce the number of abortions. In fact, based on the study conducted by Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization on reproductive health based in USA, there is statistically no significance difference between prohibiting abortion and allowing abortion. This is based on figures where the abortion rate in countries prohibiting abortion is at 37 per 1000 people while the abortion rate is at 34 per 1000 people in countries that legally allow abortion. What can you say with statistics? Abortion should be legalized in our country. Absolutely! If the Philippine government continues to ignore the passage of law on legalizing abortions, women will only be compelled to access unsafe abortion from medically incompetent practitioners whose goal is just to earn money. This would bring to fatal consequences, infection among women and even death! Could you imagine a figure about 560,000 abortions in 2008 and another 610, 000 abortions in 2012 as reported by Finer & Hussain (2013)? This could bring too much death and sufferings!
This infection and death among women due to unsafe abortion could be prevented. While many countries have started already to revise their laws for safer abortion and greater access to it, the Philippines remains to its long historic stand that abortion must be criminalized, without considering grounds and facts why it should be legalized. This stand of the Philippines to criminalize abortions prevents physicians from providing basic care for possible abortion patients which consequently deters women, girls, and other patients from seeking post-abortion care for complications due to unsafe abortion performed by non-professional practitioners. Safe, legal abortions are beneficial to women and their families. In USA, the legalization of abortion in 1973 ended the proliferation of illegal practitioners who are practicing medically unsafe abortions. It also allows doctors to provide medically competent procedure in abortions (PPFA, 2015). Hence, bringing life of every woman out of risk and danger.
Criminalizing abortions should end in the Philippines! It does not dissuade women from accessing abortions. It violates the human rights of women. It causes women to resort to unsafe abortion procedures. It increases deaths and health issues caused by unsafe abortions. It negatively impacts access to legal abortions. It disproportionately impacts poor women and girls. It exposes women to potential torture and institutional violence. It worsens complicated pregnancies leading to death due to indirect causes (CELS, 2020. These reasons are more than enough to persuade our lawmakers that they must pass a law legalizing abortion.
Of these cited facts, what is your stand on abortion? Let us enlighten the society to end the stigma on accessing abortion. Let us save lives of women and girls! Let us save the seventy five percent of women in the country who induced abortion due to lack of enough livelihood in rearing a child, the more than 50% women who have their unexpected, unplanned pregnancy after their last birth, the 46% women who are below 25; the 34% women who have health risks, the 13% women who are raped, and those women who are unsupported by family or by the partner (Upreti and Jacob, 2018). Let us lessen and end these figures! The power to change the long historic stand on abortion being immoral must be put to an end!
Abortion -now a crystal-clear word to all of us, no more controversy, an issue that does not need to be contested anymore in the Philippines. It ends a pregnancy, it ends the coming of a new life, but it saves lives of many women. Abortion -a medical procedure, a basic healthcare need for thousands to millions of women across the globe, must be put available and legal in our country. The misinformation on its nature ended. Let us spread these words -the facts and real benefits of abortion.
I would like to end this with the famous line of Clara Rita Padilla, chief of EnGendeRights -an organization promoting the right of all women to sexual and reproductive self-determination, including access to contraceptives and to safe legal abortion, and securing women against discrimination, and violence: “Our rule of law is governed by secular standards, not religious standards. To uphold women’s rights to equality and eliminate discrimination, women must have access to safe and legal abortion”. The Philippines should already follow other countries legalizing abortion -even the countries with predominant Catholic population -including Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico among others, have already liberalized their laws on abortion, allowing it on certain grounds (Upreti and Jacob, 2018). Where is the Philippines now? Safe, legal abortion is long due to be accommodated in our country. Let’s give it a legal document! Make it legal!
 (2020, September 22). Ten Reasons to Legalize Early Abortion. International Network for the Reduction of abortion Discrimination and Stigma. Centro De Studios Legales Y Sociales. Retrieved from www.cels.org/especiales/abortolegal/en
 Upreti, M & Jacob, J. (2018, June 1). It’s time for the Philippines to decriminalize abortion. International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion. Retrieved from www.safeabortionwomensright.org/philippines-two-reports/
 (2015, January). Medical and Social health Benefits since Abortion was Made Legal in the U.S.. Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Media Contact -212-261-4433
 Finer, L. & Hussain, R. (2013, August). Unintended Pregnancy and Unsafe abortion in the Philippines: Context and Consequences. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from www.guttmacher.org/report/unintended-preganancy-and-unsafe-abortion-philippines-context-and-consequences
 Wells, J. (2020, September 22). Keys Facts on Abortion. Amnesty International. Retrieved from www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do-sexual-and-reproductive-rights/abortion-facts/