There is a battle waging in the Philippines between those who understand that reproductive health care, especially access to sex ed, birth control and safe abortion procedures, benefits society and those who think it is better to cut off that care. But reproductive care has a new advocate in the Center for Reproductive Rights, who’s new report on the danger of illegal, unsafe abortion in the country is taking the media by storm. (You can read about the report as well as see a moving video from the CRR here.)
The key finding is that although abortion is illegal in the Philippines, that doesn’t dissuade women from procuring them, only from obtaining them safely. Via the AFP:
A ban on abortion in the Roman Catholic Philippines has caused a human rights crisis, with more than half a million women unsafely terminating their pregnancies each year, a rights group said.
The New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights issued a report this week saying about 1,000 women died annually in the Philippines after having backstreet abortions.
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“The criminalisation of abortion in the Philippines… violates women’s human rights by denying them access to safe and legal abortion,” the report said.
And despite abortion being illegal, more than 560,000 women terminated their pregnancies each year, according to the centre, which has been working with local women’s rights groups in the Philippines for several years.
Despite the danger that women are being forced into in order to control their own bodies, adversaries are fighting hard to keep abortion illegal. The New York Times reports:
Abortion is outlawed without exception in the Philippines, the largest Roman Catholic country in Asia, where poverty can be extreme. Efforts to legalize it, or even mitigate its impact through the promotion of a sound reproductive health program, have been met with intense opposition from the church, which has considerable influence.
Poor women with no means for acquiring reproductive services often resort to illegal and mostly unsafe abortions. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, more than half a million Filipino women undergo illegal abortions every year. Of this number, 90,000 suffer complications, and a thousand eventually die, the center said. Abortion-related complications, it said, are one of the top 10 causes of hospitalization among women in the Philippines. According to the World Health Organization, 20 percent of maternal deaths in the country are a result of unsafe abortions.
However hard the CRR and its advocates are pushing for change to abortion law, the The Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) are standing firm in their refusal to even consider it. From the Inquirer:
The Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) composed of, among others, some authors of the reproductive health bills pending in Congress, have asked the public not to consider abortion as a family planning method.
“Legalization of abortion is not the right approach to address the increasing number of mothers dying every day due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications,” PLCPD executive director Ramon San Pascual said Sunday in a statement.
He said the PLCPD strongly opposed the call of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) for Congress to pass a law that would permit abortion in the country.
“Abortion is not part of the PLCPD’s proposed measures on reproductive health and [we are] not part of any group calling for the legalization of abortion in the Philippines,” San Pascual said.
The church is also stepping up its rhetoric, reminding the country once more that abortion is and always will be a mortal sin for anyone involved. Via Catholic Culture:
A leading Philippine prelate is reminding Catholics that those who procure an abortion incur an automatic excommunication. The excommunication, says Archbishop Oscar Cruz, affects “the woman concerned, the husband who helped her, the abortionist, [and] the nurses” who actively participated in the abortion.
So how exactly is the Philippines planning to address problems in the reproductive health community? Why, they have a new Family Planning Slogan-Making Contest! They hope that the contest and subsequent television education campaign will, among other things, help families understand that they should try to space their children out at least three years apart and practice “responsible parenthood.” Which, in a country with the church fighting not only abortion, but birth control, too, should be really effective.
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Ruling made with a certain bias – Philadelphia Inquirer
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