Abortion is legally not allowed in the Philippines. Women who induced abortion on their own for their unplanned or unwanted pregnancy faced up to 6 years in jail. There are no legal abortion clinics or any abortion or pro-choice centers in Manila. The Catholic Church has a great influence over the law here and any pro-choice movement would instantly be squashed.
The only abortion allowed in the Philippines is under the medical discretion of an OB-gynecologist. If the pregnancy will cause the death of the mother or if the fetus is already dead, just a sac, without a heartbeat or a blighted ovum. A medical miscarriage maybe induced through the use of Mifepristone, Misoprostol (cytotec) followed possibly by a D&E (dilation and evacuation) procedure commonly known by Filipinos as "Raspa" (which means to scrape off) to ensure no dead tissue is left inside the uterus.
Senator Juan Flavier used to have a population control program that offered free condoms and contraceptives at health centers. With a shift in power and President Arroyo courting the influence of the Catholic Church to be on her side has stopped the Population control program and the USAID donations of contraceptives to please the archbishops. Now the Filipino people are on their own. With the church promoting abstinence as a method to curve the population boom, women now have to suffer. Only the working class and the rich can afford medical contraception and family planning.
Photo by Cheryl Ravelo | Reuters News
Abortion maybe illegal in the Philippines, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It is talked about, but never publicly. No woman would ever dare admit to an abortion due to the shame, gossip and moral outrage of the community.
Still, there are Filipino women often too poor, with no means to buy contraceptives and are raising an average of 7-10 children that are left to the mercy of hilots (healers or massagers) that is, if they choose to undergo a backstreet abortion rather than raising another child they are unable to care for.
For an investigative report on abortion, please refer to the Reuters news article - Abortion in the Philippines: a national secret
According to the International Family Planning Perspectives, Filipinas obtain abortions—often in unsafe conditions—to avoid unplanned births. In 1994, the estimated abortion rate was 25 per 1,000 women per year.
Where women go for abortions in the Philippines:
Hilots (healers or massagers) are sought out in communities. The deed is done in backalleys, shanties or privately rented rooms such as motels and apartelles.
Quiapo Church. Ironically, abortificients such as herbal cocktails and the ulcer drug Misoprostol (cytotec) are sold by peddlers around the Church area. There are what you call spotters who will ask women and passerbys if they are interested to avail of the drug. The police conducts annual raids with the media in tow.
Self-induced or self-injury methods. This ranges from throwing yourself off a flight of stairs, asking to get punched in the belly, jumping around till you bleed, coathangers, catheters and everything gruesome. Any possible method to land in a hospital to get a D&E.
Sadly, most who self abort are teenagers and most end up dead due to complications and injury.
I guess what should be promoted by the government is not an abortion or an anti-abortion sentiment, but rather make safe-sex education and free contraception available to the public.
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