Pinsan | The Denial of Safe and Legal Abortion is an Attack on the Poor
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The Denial of Safe and Legal Abortion is an Attack on the Poor

The Denial of Safe and Legal Abortion is an Attack on the Poor

The current criminal law on abortion implemented in the Philippines is based on a primitive and outdated concept.

Clara Rita Padilla, in her Rappler article from 2015 mentions that, “At the time the law was adopted, Filipino women did not even have the right to vote, there was no Universal Declaration of Human Rights and no international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1976), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1976), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1981), Convention Against Torture (CAT, 1987), and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1990).”

She also mentions that the law was adopted as a direct translation of the Old Spanish Penal code from 1870! Needless to say, women in the Philippines are forced to follow rules that are almost 150 years old.

We can all agree that a lot has changed over that period.

Technology has progressed to make the procedure safer, new information has been discovered concerning the personhood of the fetus, and many revisions have been made in the penal code to accommodate for cultural changes.

The question we should all be asking is, “Why do we have such outdated notions surrounding abortion?”

The most common excuse, of course, is that there are legal measures installed to protect the “lives” of innocent people. In other words, these laws are here to prevent the occurrence of abortion. However, according to current data, these laws don’t necessarily stop abortions, they just make it more dangerous.

From the same article, it was mentioned that, “The illegality of abortion has not deterred Filipino women from inducing unsafe abortion. It has only made it dangerous for them where estimates in 2012 show that 610,000 women resorted to abortion, over 100,000 women were hospitalized and 3 women die every day due to unsafe abortion complications.”

To make matters worse, these laws primarily the most vulnerable sectors of Philippine society – the poor. For people who are wealthy, these restrictive laws are nothing more than minor inconveniences. Wealthy people have the option to travel to countries where safe and legal abortion is available and have the procedure done there.

At worst, they have the resources to acquire the proper medical care to ensure a safe delivery, and enough resources to provide for the newborn, without drastically changing their lifestyles.

For the poor, it is an entirely different story. For one, in the Philippines, 2 out of 3 women who induce abortion are poor.

For many women, the decision to have an abortion is primarily made because of economic reasons. Many of them simply can’t afford another child. Many of them can’t afford the necessary medical services to make pregnancy and delivery safe. Many of them can’t afford to be out of work or out of school due to the pregnancy. Many women are choosing to have an abortion, because they see no other way to survive, given their economic situations.

As the data shows, even without the availability of safe and legal abortion, these women find dangerous ways to induce one anyway. The only thing that these restrictive laws accomplish is expose the most vulnerable members of our society to even more danger.

The denial of safe and legal abortion services has been and still is an attack on the poor, forcing them into a very bad dilemma; they are forced deeper into poverty due to the high cost of pregnancy and delivery, or forced to risk their lives with unsafe and illegal abortion procedures.

For more resources on abortion please visit: EnGendeRight’s Policy Briefs and Fact Sheets



Padilla, C. R. (2015, September). “The Reality of Abortion in the Philippines.” Retrieved on: June 15, 2017.