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


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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