Legalizing abortion in the Philippines?
It saddened me upon learning that abortion is being pushed to be legalized in the Philippines by a group of women's rights organization. Take note, they are composed of women. Why do they suggest to legalize abortion? To quote from Atty. Clara Rita Padilla's blog "The international human rights standard is to liberalize abortion laws to make it safe and accessible to women and thereby lessen maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion". She further added "Recognizing that the criminalization of abortion does not lessen the number of women inducing abortion but only makes it dangerous for women who undergo clandestine and unsafe abortion.."
Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia and contrary to that statistical data reported that there were some 400,000 to 500,000 abortion in 2005. The Department of Health added that nearly 100,000 women who have unsafe abortions every year end up in the hospital.
About 4 in 5 abortions in the Philippines are for economic reasons, according to a survey by the University of the Philippines. In many cases, said Jocelyn Pacete, a spokeswoman for Likhaan, a women's health group based in Manila, "the mother can't afford another child, so ends up choosing her five living children over the fetus in her womb." (Source: Legal Updates)
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The act is criminalized by the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, which was enacted in 1930 and remains in effect today. Articles 256, 258 and 259 of the Code mandate imprisonment for the woman who undergoes the abortion, as well as for any person who assists in the procedure, even if they be the woman's parents, a physician or midwife. Article 258 further imposes a higher prison term on the woman or her parents if the abortion is undertaken "in order to conceal [the woman's] dishonor".
There is no law in the Philippines that expressly authorizes abortions in order to save the woman's life; and the general provisions which do penalize abortion make no qualifications if the woman's life is endangered. It may be argued that an abortion to save the mother's life could be classified as a justifying circumstance (duress as opposed to self-defense) that would bar criminal prosecution under the Revised Penal Code. However, this has yet to be adjudicated by the Philippine Supreme Court.
Proposals to liberalize Philippine abortion laws have been opposed by the Catholic Church, and its opposition has considerable influence in the predominantly Catholic country. However, the constitutionality of abortion restrictions has yet to be challenged before the Philippine Supreme Court.
What is the stand of the Church about abortion?
A leading Philippine prelate is reminding Catholics that those who procure an abortion incur an automatic excommunication. The excommunication, says Archbishop Oscar Cruz, affects “the woman concerned, the husband who helped her, the abortionist, [and] the nurses” who actively participated in the abortion. (Source: Catholic Culture)
What is the stand of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD?
The Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) composed of, among others, some authors of the reproductive health bills pending in Congress, have asked the public not to consider abortion as a family planning method.
“Legalization of abortion is not the right approach to address the increasing number of mothers dying every day due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications,” PLCPD executive director Ramon San Pascual said Sunday in a statement.
He said the PLCPD strongly opposed the call of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) for Congress to pass a law that would permit abortion in the country.
“Abortion is not part of the PLCPD’s proposed measures on reproductive health and [we are] not part of any group calling for the legalization of abortion in the Philippines,” San Pascual said. (Source: Inquirer)
What is RH Bill
The Reproductive Health bills, popularly known as the RH Bill, are Philippine bills aiming to guarantee universal access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care. The bills have become the center of a contentious national debate. There are presently two bills with the same goals: House Bill No. 4244 or An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and For Other Purposes introduced by Albay 1st district Representative Edcel Lagman, and Senate Bill No. 2378 or An Act Providing For a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. (Source: Wikipedia)
Please fell free to share your thoughts in the comments section about the issues in legalizing abortion in the Philippines.
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