Abortion in the Philippinnes

Every year in the Philippines, there are:

  • 3.1 million – total number of pregnancies
  • 1.43 million – unintended pregnancies
  • 473,000 – abortions
  • 79,000 – treatments at facilities for abortion complications
  • 800 – deaths of women due to abortion

Abortion is illegal according to the Revised Penal Code which provides:

  • Art. 256. Intentional abortion by any person – punishable by 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years imprisonment.
  • Art. 257. Unintentional abortion by any person (abortion caused by violence) – punishable by 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.
  • Art. 258. Abortion practiced by the woman herself or by her parents – punishable by 6 months and 1 day to 6 years imprisonment.
  • Art. 259. Abortion practiced by physician or midwife – punishable by 6 to 20 years imprisonment; dispensing of any abortive by pharmacist without prescription – punishable by 1 month and 1 day to 6 months imprisonment and Php 1000.00 fine.

Who aborts their pregnancy?

  • Usually married, with at least 3 children
  • Poor, Catholic, some high school

Why do women induce abortion?

  • Cannot afford another child
  • Birth spacing
  • Pregnancy’s effect on health
  • Family/partner doesn’t want the pregnancy

Who decides on the abortion?

  • Many women do not decide alone. Two-thirds of women who seek abortion discuss the decision with someone:
  • 43% with husband/partner
  • 25% with friend or relative

What usually happens during the abortion?

Multiple attempts with different, often risky and ineffective methods: Physical trauma/exertion, insertion of catheter or other objects into the cervix, ingestion of traditional or herbal drink, aspirin.

Not all women who need post-abortion care receive it. 65% of women who have complications seek help from facilities and other informal providers. The remainder do not get help and are at risk of developing long-term consequences.

Many women who obtained post-abortion care in hospitals:

  • Were not counseled regarding their concerns and contraceptive needs
  • Were scolded
  • Were handled “roughly”
  • Were not given pain relievers or anesthesia
  • Some women were denied treatment

Why women do not seek treatment:

  • Cost
  • Fear of being turned in to authorities
  • Fear of being treated harshly by medical providers

Providers believe the women should be treated, but some of them say:

  • The women “are criminals and should be punished”
  • It is dismaying to use scarce resources on women who committed an immoral act
  • It is hard to give proper treatment to women who conceal the fact that their medical emergency is the result of abortion

Source:

Compiled by Jeross Aguilar

Singh S, et al., Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Causes and Consequences. New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006.

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