The Philippines has one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the world – abortion is criminalized with no exceptions. This law, coupled with the stigma associated with abortion, has heavily contributed to a high incidence of unsafe abortions in the Philippines.1
Is abortion legal in the Philippines?
Abortion is illegal in the Philippines with no exceptions, including when needed to save the life, or protect the health, of a pregnant woman.2 Abortion was made illegal under the Spanish colonial rule through the Penal Code of 1870, and the criminal provisions were incorporated into the Revised Penal Code passed in 19303 under U.S. occupation of the Philippines, which has continued to be applied up until today.
In 2016, the Department of Health issued an Administrative Order (AO) on the Prevention and Management of Abortion Complications (DOH AO No. 2016-0041). The objective of the policy is to provide and improve the quality of safe post-abortion services in both private and public health facilities. This AO was signed into law on November 25, 2016. Aside from the AO, other laws that require safe post-abortion care are: the Republic Act (RA) 9710, the RA 10354, the RA 8344, and the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
What are the different post-abortion services available in the Philippines?
Under the Department of Health Administrative Order on the Prevention and Management of Abortion Complications (DOH AO No. 2016-0041)4, the following post-abortion care services are allowed in the Philippines:
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
- Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA), and
The AO highly encourages MVA because it is less intrusive and painful, and there is less chance of complications.
Who can perform post-abortion care services in the Philippines?
Under the DOH AO No. 2016-0041, the following professionals are allowed to perform post-abortion care services:
- Medical doctors (obstetrician-gynecologists and general practitioners),
- Nurses, and
These health care providers are allowed to conduct these services as long as they are trained and certified by government-approved institutions.
Where can I go for abortion services in the Philippines?
Although abortion services are not easily available in the Philippines, Filipino women have the option of visiting any of these neighboring countries for safe abortions:
- Cambodia. You do not need a visa to travel to Cambodia. There are daily flights to Cambodia from Manila, Philippines. You can visit the Cambodia Country Profile on our website for more information about how to access abortion pills and services in Cambodia.
- Vietnam. You do not need a visa to travel to Vietnam. There are daily flights to Vietnam from Manila, Philippines. You can visit the Vietnam Country Profile on our website for more information about how to access abortion pills and services in Vietnam.
- China. As a citizen of the Philippines, you will need a visa to travel to China. There are daily flights to China from Manila, Philippines. Visit http://ph.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/visas/ for comprehensive travel information. You can visit the China Country Profile on our website for more information about how to access abortion pills and services in China.
Moreover, any woman who seeks post-abortion care may access help from public or private hospitals and health facilities in these countries.
What is the cost of a safe abortion in the Philippines?
Manual vacuum aspiration(MVA) and dilation and curettage (D&C procedures cost 11,000 Philippine pesos or around 211.53 US dollars. The service providers’ professional fees are 4,400 Philippine pesos, and the hospital charge is 6,600 Philippine pesos.
These services are covered and reimbursed by PhilHealth. For more information click here.
Which abortion pills are available in the Philippines?
Misoprostol is registered in the Philippines for treatment of a range of medical conditions, but it is not easily available and where available for other indications, you need a prescription to access it.
Cytotec is a brand of abortion pills that contains Misoprostol only and can be used on its own for a medical abortion. For more comprehensive instructions on how to use the abortion pill, visit https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/howto/.
Where can I buy abortion pills in the Philippines?
Abortion pills are not sold legally in the Philippines. There are various reports of unapproved medical abortion pills on the market, which are being sold without a prescription. Please note that these unauthorized sellers do not always provide proper instructions on eligibility, dosage, and usage for medical abortion pills. Improper usage of abortion pills may contribute to an unsafe abortion and may endanger your health and life.
We recommend that anyone exploring the options of buying abortion pills online should visit trusted websites such as Women on Web and Women Help Women.
Please refer to the following page on our website for comprehensive instructions on how to use abortion pills: https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/howto/
What do abortion pills look like in the Philippines?
Although abortion pills are not available in the Philippines, this is what different brands of abortion pills available in neighboring countries look like:
A. This is how Cytotec, available in Vietnam looks like:
B. This is how Misoprostol abortion pills, available in China look like:
Who can I contact for additional abortion and post-abortion information and support in the Philippines?
- Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Health and Rights
Telephone: (+632) 9287785
- Likhaan Center for Women’s Health Inc.
Email Address: email@example.com
Telephone: (63 2) 454-3854 Fax: (63 2) 926-6230
- Asia Safe Abortion Partnership
- 1L. B. Finer & R. Hussain. “Unintended Pregnancy and Unsafe Abortion in the Philippines: Context and Consequences.” Guttmacher Institute. 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2020 from https://www.guttmacher.org/report/unintendeds-pregnancy-and-unsafe-abortion-philippines-context-and-consequences
- 2Center for Reproductive Rights. “Facts on Abortion in the Philippines: Criminalization and a General Ban on Abortion.” Retrieved June 22, 2020 from https://reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/pub_fac_philippines_1%2010.pdf
- 3Centre for Reproductive Rights. “Philippines’s Abortion Provisions: Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.” 1987. Article II, Section 12. The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, Act. No. 3815 of December 8, 1930, Articles 256 – 259. Retrieved June 22, 2020 from http://www.reproductiverights.org/world-abortion-laws/philippines-abortion-provisions
- 4EnGenderHealth and PINSAN. “Saving Women’s Lives: National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Abortion Complications (DOH AO No. 2016-0041): Frequently Asked Questions.” 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://pinsan.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/pinsan-pmac-web.pdf