Philippines – Abortion: A not-so-hidden reality

By: Gideon Lasco
June 10, 2022

We hardly talked about abortion when I was in medical school, but its reality could not be denied in our OB-GYN rotation, when women came to the emergency room, distraught and pale, with the complications of unsafe abortion practices, leading them to sepsis and, oftentimes, death. Alas, I have seen how these women rarely received an iota of sympathy, not even from physicians themselves.

I would learn more about these “unsafe abortion practices” in medical anthropology, where our professor and my eventual mentor, Michael Tan, would always include abortifacients in his discussion of “Quiapo Medical Center” or the range of substances that one can buy in Quiapo, right in front of the church, reflective of our syncretic medical culture. The fact that abortifacients are euphemistically called “pampa-regla” speaks of their being taboo, but the mere fact that they exist speaks of the popular demand for them. Over the years, Professor Tan and I have followed how these abortifacients have gone online; even today, one can easily find Facebook pages that offer them.