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Abortion: A Contested Issue, A Liberalizing Truth

“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”, this is the stand 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. Philippines, being a previous colony of a catholic country in the past, and whose belief prohibits abortion among women, has a contention that abortion is immoral; hence in context must be criminalized. However, Upreti and Jacob (2018) mentioned that almost all former Spanish colonies, mostly 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. Should Philippines legalize abortion, facts and grounds must be carefully considered.

abortion-a-contested-issue-a-liberalizing-truth

Abortion: Reasons and Benefits

The many reasons why women induced abortion is of profound consideration -seventy five percent of women in the country induced abortion due to lack of enough livelihood in rearing a child; above 50% of women have their unexpected, unplanned pregnancy after their last birth or already having many children, 46% were women below 25; about 34% of women have health risks, 13% of women are raped, and one third of pregnancy among women is unsupported by family or by the partner as cited by Upreti and Jacob, 2018. These figures are manifestations that many women will die from unsafe and illegal abortion methods if access to safe and legal abortion is still a problem. In fact, according to MacCleery (n.d.) the Philippines’ policies on criminalizing abortions had resulted to deaths of at least 1,000 women and more than 90,000 complications among women last 2008. Existing criminal abortion laws, including the Revised Penal Code, also penalize medical professional including midwives who perform abortions in the country even consent is given by a pregnant woman, charging them at most six years of imprisonment. This fact forces women with life-threatening pregnancies to risk their lives, to having unsafe abortion or to continuing their pregnancies which are risky to their health. Due to illegal abortion laws, many women face significant abuse when they seek treatment for abortion complications which stigmatizes the procedure in the medical community. Adding to this stigma is the Catholic long influence in the country which continues to disregard women’s health and deprives women from effective services on reproductive health, including free access to contraceptives for underprivileged women, sex education, and comprehensive family planning counseling. Not to mention, based on reports provided by the Center for Reproductive Rights (2013) the law on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health signed in 2012, which would secure universal and free access to most modern contraceptives for all citizen; would promote education on reproductive health in public schools and would recognize the right of a woman on post-abortion care, was delayed by Philippine Supreme Court for three months before it was implemented -believed to be influenced by the Catholic groups. In the United States of America, abortion was legalized since 1973, and many demonstrable benefits were observed along physical, emotional, and social aspects. This legalization ended the proliferation of illegal practitioners who are practicing medically unsafe abortions that cause many women injured, and worst killed. Physicians and midwives are no longer penalizes and had no more to fear of becoming imprisoned and of having loss their medical licenses for practicing abortions (PPFA, 2015). Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2015) also cited that the legalization of abortion resulted to decrease infection among women resulting from illegal abortion at 75%. Deaths from abortion also declined in USA in the three decades of the implementation of legal abortion, and it has brought a historic impact on American women and on their families. These show the positive benefits of legalization of abortion in a certain country, hence a well-crafted policies and laws on abortion legalization must be adapted.

In the Philippines, about two million unintended pregnancies were recorded in 2008 which cause to unsafe abortions as reported by Finer & Hussain (2013). It is also projected that 560,000 abortions have been performed in 2008 and another 610, 000 abortions in 2012 considerably unsafe abortions due to highly stigmatized activity and is punishable by law. Among these women who induced abortions, are women who were predominantly Catholic, married, and are high school graduates. They are also mostly from low-earning families. The lack of enough livelihood in rearing a child; having health risks, being raped, and not being supported by partner or family increases the risks of these women to choose unsafe abortions, and seek abortions from incompetent practitioners who are only after money, hence the medically incompetent service. These reasons and undeniably facts why women pose themselves at the risks of unsafe abortion need timely and immediate response from the government. As mentioned, the legalization of abortion in the USA had brought many benefits including the decrease of infections among women and decrease in the proliferation of illegal practitioners. These undeniable facts are good grounds in considering the legalization of abortion in the country to help women from getting risks on unsafe abortion. In fact, the signing into law of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health in 2012 is a historic start in the legalization of abortion in the country. This law would decline abortions by 500,000 based on a 2009 study, if modern contraceptives are used by most Filipino women at risk of pregnancy (Finer & Hussain, 2013).

These foregoing data, including the considerable reasons on legal, safe abortions, and those cited multi-faceted benefits of legalizing abortion as observed in USA, shows that the country’s unsafe abortion can be prevented if there would be laws and policies concerning safe and medically competent abortion. If the country had to craft a law on abortion, risks on woman health will be decreased substantially, and other benefits are foreseen in the future. The legalization of abortion in USA is a good example that safe abortion is never immoral because it brings many benefits, emotionally, physically, and socially. Thus, data show that laws must be passed in the legalization of abortion in the country.

References

[1] Padilla, C.R. & Padilla, M. (2015, September 13). The reality of abortion in the Philippines. Rappler. Retrieved from rappler.com/voices/ispeak/reality-abortion-philippines

[2] 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/

[3] MacCleery (n.d). Facts on Abortion in the Philippines: Criminalization and a General Ban on Abortion. Center for Reproductive Rights. Retrieved from www.reproductiverights.org

[4] (2013, March 21). Philippine Supreme Court Delays Implementation of Landmark Reproductive Health Law. Center for Reproductive Rights. Retrieved from www.reproductiverights.org

[5] (2015, January). Medical and Social health Benefits since Abortion was Made Legal in the U.S.. Planned Parenthood Federation pf America. Media Contact -212-261-4433

[6] 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