Breaking the Bond of Stigma: Cultivating Women’s Right to Safe Abortion

It is sickening that some people think that they have the right over someone else’s body.

Legalizing abortion in the Philippines is still a tempest in a teapot over the pro-life and the pro-choice people. Considering the reality that the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, such a call for abortion is highly stigmatized. However, Argentina’s Congress has recently legalized abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Isn’t it also a time for the Philippines to step forward and follow what Argentina has done?

Argentina is not the only Catholic country that liberalized laws on abortion. Mexico also takes space on the list concurrently with Bahamas, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela. For the Filipinos who have grown accustomed to the religious dogmas revolving around our country, it is not even a surprise that many have misconceptions about abortion.

Abortion in the Philippines has been criminalized for a century already under the scope of the archaic Spanish-colonial Penal Code of 1870. This antiquated law is rigorously restrictive and has no exceptions. Because women have no choice, they are forced to opt for unsafe procedures to abort the child they are carrying or continue with their pregnancy despite its dangers. Additionally, most of the women who chose to unsafely abort their child are poor. This reflects the impediments intercepting them to have family planning and to access contraceptives. A study entitled “Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion” by Singh and colleagues states that 10 women who had their abortion successfully have health issues. Complications such as incomplete abortion, infection, hemorrhage, uterine perforation, and damage to the genital tract and internal organs may occur if a woman undergoes this secretive and risky process.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Singh’s study shows that 75% of women who underwent abortion were lacking funds to raise another child. 57% of this had enough children. 46% of the surveyed women said that they were too young. Meanwhile, about one-third of women said they had health risks. And lastly, 13% of them were rape victims.

The worst-case scenario is that those who choose to go through unsafe abortion might add to the number of women who died from inducing it. 1,000 Filipinos each year and three women every day die from unsafe abortions. If abortion becomes legal, it will make way for proper medical support to lessen deaths and will curtail the risks it holds because experts and physicians will be the ones to handle it. Women are also guaranteed post-abortion care to treat possible complications.

A pregnant woman is given two choices: childbirth or abortion. Abortion is basic health care that a woman should attain. Preferring to have one does not make them any lesser, nor does it make them irresponsible parents. It is a matter of discerning the consequences that may ensue if they push through an unwanted pregnancy.

Many pro-lifers and religious people would imply that a fetus has life because life begins at the point of fertilization. Nevertheless, the WHO denoted that the fetal viability of a fetus is probable after 20 weeks. Some scientists also affirm that it is after 24 weeks of gestation that a fetus becomes viable. Therefore, a fetus does not have equal status with the person carrying it until it can go out of the womb. The most noticeable difference is that a fetus is 100% dependent on the mother’s body to survive. By definition, human beings should be separate individuals who do not gain the status of human beings by residing inside the body of another human being.

If you are pro-life, you should also be against police brutality, the passing of the Anti-Terror Law, Duterte’s extrajudicial killings (EJK), Marcos’s martial law, gender-based discrimination, the death penalty, and every kind of oppressive demeanor. If you are a true pro-life, you should be with “All Cops Are Bastardized” (ACAB); Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) Bill; “Black Lives Matter” (BLM); LGBTQIA+ rights and women empowerment because if you are merely a pro-life for a cluster of cells, aren’t you ashamed?

It is much atrocious that what pro-lifers care more about is a cluster of cells and has no idea of anything that it might be born into a home where it will be either unwanted, uncared for, unable to be financially provided, or unable to be mentally provided.

Moreover, we should also note that in every hour, one woman or child is raped. Legalizing abortion for victims of rape will grant them access to abort the child who might give them mental torture, physical challenges, and a reminder of the terrible grave injustice they have trailed.

Admittedly, abortion will not eradicate rape, but it can somehow erase the mother’s awful past and can heave the laden of burden she is carrying. Women who got pregnant out of rape will be forced to have kids even if it is despised. With this looming occurrence, it will engender a balloon of the population that will just escalate the Philippines’ problem of overpopulation.

As a country that has fought long for women’s reproductive health, it is certainly time to decriminalize abortion. Giving women the right to choose over their bodies will never equate to depriving the baby’s life. Abortion is not prone to abuse because it is, again, women’s basic health care. It is sickening that some people think that they have the right over someone else’s body. It is not compulsory, but rather, it is about freely giving women an option.


Carl Angelo Y. Cagatin

Carl Angelo Y. Cagatin is a bookworm, a campus journalist, and a writer of essays and poems. He is also an incoming Grade 11 Accountancy Business and Management student at FEU Roosevelt Rodriguez. He is also a writer of different organizations, such as Dagitab PH, Vox Populi PH, and YACAP PH. Email Carl at: carl@voxpopuliph.com.

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