Right to Safe and Legal Abortion, Divorce, Marriage Equality and Women’s Affirmative Action Missing in PDu30 SONA
July 23, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Quezon City, July 23, 2017 – “In President Duterte’s SONA speech, the rights to safe and legal abortion, divorce, marriage equality and women’s affirmative action were blatantly missing. If we recall, after the recent President’s meeting with the CBCP, it was mentioned in the news that President Duterte and the CBCP were in agreement as regards the issues on divorce, abortion, and marriage equality. It is unfortunate that the passage of laws that would have far-reaching impact on the rights of women and LGBTI people were absent in his speech,” said Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights.
“In the draft Constitution that the President is supporting, no woman sits in the Consultative Committee and it is no surprise that the draft itself does not contain affirmative action ensuring women’s representation in Congress and the proposed Constitutional Courts, among others. The Filipino populace would eventually reject this draft as the mere process of drafting itself is questionable as women were left out in the process and women’s rights are glaringly absent in the draft,” said Atty. Padilla.
“For instance, since Philippine jurisprudence recognizes that therapeutic abortion is allowed to save the life of the woman as held in the 1961 Supreme Court case of Geluz v. CA, it is high time that Congress repeal the restrictive provisions in the Revised Penal Code to expressly allow safe and legal abortion on demand or at the very least on various grounds such as risk to the health and life of the woman, rape, fetal impairment, and other reasons the woman might want to seek abortion such as socio-economic reasons, among others,” added Atty. Padilla.
“In the 2017 SONA, President Duterte mentioned that he was against abortion, however, there are many cases where therapeutic abortion can be allowed to save the life of a woman or to prevent disability. Pregnant women with conditions such as dwarfism, hypertensive disorders, tuberculosis, diabetes, bronchial asthma, goiter, HIV, malaria, severe anemia, malnutrition, and pregnant women who are less than 18 or greater than 35 years of age, have a fourth or more children, are battered by their husbands or partners, and have spinal metal plates may die from complications from pregnancy and childbirth and may need access to safe abortion to save their lives and prevent life-long disability,” added Atty. Padilla.
“There are women who become suicidal because of their pregnancy. These include rape victim-survivors who suffer depression, become suicidal, and resort to clandestine and unsafe abortion. Some incest rape victim-survivors who became pregnant after being raped by their own fathers whether adolescents or adults have resorted to clandestine and unsafe abortion risking their health and lives. About one in every nine Filipino women who induce abortion are rape victim-survivors. Without access to safe and legal abortion, they end up part of the statistics of women who die from unsafe abortion complications. These cases fall under the ambit of therapeutic abortions to save the life and health of the woman,” explained Atty. Padilla.
“Because of lack of access to safe and legal abortion in the Philippines, in 2012, there were about three Filipino women who died every day from complications from unsafe abortion. Many women report being treated inhumanely when they are rushed to the hospitals to get treatment for complications for their self-induced abortions. And because of the restrictive abortion law and judgment passed on women, it is not only the women who induce abortions who are treatly harshly but also women who suffer complications from spontaneous abortions, miscarriages after being beaten by their abusive husbands, and fetal death. I hope our representatives in the Philippine government will realize how these human rights violations are so pervasive in our society and they just simply can’t turn a blind eye on this important issue. I hope the Philippines will soon decriminalize abortion since presently abortion is only recognized in our country to save the woman's life and for medical necessity based on a 1961 supreme Court decision,” added Atty. Padilla.
Abortion is common in the Philippines with about 70 women inducing abortion every hour and about 11 women hospitalized every hour from unsafe abortion complications in 2012. The number of women who have induced abortion in 2018 would be significantly higher since the number of women inducing abortion increases proportionally with the growing Philippine population.
Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal death and is a leading cause of hospitalizations.
There are various reasons why Filipino women undergo abortion. Filipino women induce abortion due to various reasons such as:
- Inability to afford the cost of raising a child or an additional child –75% of the women
- Too soon (having enough children or their pregnancy came too soon after their last birth) – more than half of the women
- Age/Too young – 46% were women younger than 25
- Health risks – nearly one-third of the women
- Rape - 13% of the women
- Pregnancy not supported by Partner/Family - one-third of the women
Most of the women who are hospitalized and die from complications from unsafe abortion are poor, Roman Catholics, married, with at least three children, and have at least a high school education. Poor women comprise two-thirds of those who induce abortion, using riskier abortion methods, thus disproportionately experiencing severe complications —clearly showing that lack of access to safe abortion is a social justice issue.
The archaic Spanish colonial law on abortion in our 1930 Revised Penal Code has not decreased the number of women who induce abortion rather it has made it dangerous for women who resort to clandestine and unsafe abortion.***
Atty. Clara Rita “Claire” A. Padilla
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