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

Share it on:

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.

Studies have shown that unsafe abortion is a significant contributor to the Philippine’s high maternal mortality ratio— about 1,000 Filipino women die each year from unsafe abortion complications, while tens of thousands are hospitalized. The majority of women who constitute these statistics are usually young, poor, or from rural areas.

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

( or contact any of our three partner providers:, or

Share it on: