ABORTION IN THE PHILIPPINES: Behind The Country’s High Rates of Maternal Mortality

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By Claire

Abortion in the Philippines

The Philippines is home to some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the entire world. Under the current legislation, there is no explicit legal justification for an abortion- even if the pregnancy puts the mother’s life in danger.

Because of such prohibitive access to safe options, many women in the country have resorted to unsafe means of terminating their pregnancies.

Right outside Quiapo Church, where candles, amulets, and rosary beads are sold, peddlers lurk under the shadows of the largest Catholic Church in Manila. They leverage a woman’s desperation to sell unregulated, ineffective, and oftentimes blatantly dangerous methods of abortion— either with a bitter herb that would induce menstruation or with directions to the home of a “doctor”. Women who pursue these methods often later find themselves battling infections, complications, or serious life-threatening situations.

Abortion Rate in the Philippines

Studies have shown that unsafe abortion is a significant contributor to the high maternal mortality ration in the Philippines. In one 2012 estimate, roughly 610,000 abortions are thought to have taken place that year in the country. Due to restrictive laws, many of these abortions are unsafe. About 1,000 Filipino women die each year from unsafe abortion complications, while tens of thousands are hospitalized.

Abortion Law in the Philippines

The rate of induced abortion in these vulnerable populations reflects the difficulties women experience in accessing reproductive health care, including modern contraceptives. Despite the passage of the country’s Reproductive Health Bill into law, contraception and sex education, among others, remain to be controversial in the Philippines.

Strong opposition from conservatives, most especially the Catholic Church, still pose a challenge to the full implementation of the law. Abstinence and the withdrawal method, the former preached by the church and the latter practiced by millions of couples without access to proper contraceptive care, prove to be inefficient in preventing pregnancies.

Under the current legislation in the Philippines, abortion is restricted in all cases. This absolute ban continues to drive women to seek abortions from untrained providers, using unregulated medication, or in unsanitary conditions. If you or someone you know needs access to safe options in the Philippines, visit our website for more information

Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of www.HowToUseAbortionPill.org

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