28 May Safe abortion advocates in the Philippines join global call for women’s health
Manila, May 28, 2017 – “Our Health, Our Rights, Our Lives!” The advocates of Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) echo this call, one made by the many women’s rights advocates all over the world who are part of the May 28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health.
“Women’s health matters,” said Atty. Claire Padilla, spokesperson of PINSAN, echoing another theme of May 28. “Now more than ever, reproductive health and women’s rights advocates must join the fight for the human rights of women and girls everywhere in the world, especially in places with very restrictive laws that impact women’s health. Unfortunately, one of those places is the Philippines.”
In the Philippines, the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law has been impeded by several legal hurdles, the latest of which is a temporary restraining order (TRO) on two brands of implants (Implanon and Implanon NXT).
This threatens even the certification of other contraceptives by obligating the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow anti-choice groups to oppose such certification, delaying the process at best and at worst, deeming some contraceptives illegal, depending on the decision of the body the anti-choice group makes an appeal to. This decision was previously left solely to the discretion of the experts at the FDA.
“The main issue of the TRO and certification is whether contraceptives are abortifacient,” Padilla explained. “This unfortunately increases the stigma surrounding the issue of abortion, further perpetuating the myths and misinformation surrounding it.”
In the Philippines, abortion is not legal under any circumstances, even to save the life of a woman. The lack of access to safe and legal abortion services is one of the themes of May 28: “The systemic denial of women’s right to access safe and legal abortion services, and/or the criminalization of abortion is one of the most severe examples of institutional violence in regards of sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Each day approximately 3 women die as a result of abortion-related complications, 274 women are hospitalized for abortion, and 1,671 women undergo medically unsafe abortion procedures despite the risk of criminal prosecution.
Padilla read the call from PINSAN’s manifesto: “We object to the absolute criminal ban on abortion in the Philippines with no clear exceptions and recognize that this violates women’s fundamental human rights, including the rights to life, health, nondiscrimination, privacy, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
“We believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights. If women and girls cannot control their own bodies, sexualities, and fertility including their right to access safe abortion services and information, they cannot exercise other civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights.”
PINSAN invites fellow advocates to show their support for May 28 on social media by using the hashtags #OurhealthOurrights and #WomensHealthMatters.
The Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to working towards achieving full realization of women and girls’ human rights – including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. In line with this, they strive toward the demystification, destigmatization, and decriminalization of abortion in the Philippines.