Friday, May 16, 2008

Laws, facts, and statistics on abortions in the Philippines

Note: Early morning today, according to my Bravenet site meter, this blog reached beyond 10,000 visitors since October 2007. With a daily average of 70+ visitors from more than 50 countries around the world, some 25,000 viewers will visit this site this year. Considering time spent on site and page views, not all of these visits are or will be significant. But the figures are gratifying for any blogger, nevertheless. The service I provide in this blog and in my Family Matters website is legal information and Biblical counseling. As I told one person who e-mailed me, what is legal is not always Biblical, and what is Biblical is not always legal. In this blog however, what is Biblical will always take precedence.

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Consider the following facts and statistics:

1. In 2005, there were some 400,000 to 500,000 abortions in the Philippines. The World Health Organization estimate puts the figure at nearly 800,000, one of the highest rates of unsafe abortions in Asia.

2. Seventy percent of unwanted pregnancies in the Philippines end in abortion, according to the WHO. Pro-Life Philippines, an anti-abortion group, says that one of four pregnancies in the Philippines end in abortion.

3. According to the Department of Health, nearly 100,000 women who have unsafe abortions every year end up in the hospital.

4. As many as 17 percent of all unsafe abortions are done on teenage or young mothers, according to the DOH.

5. The national abortion ratio in 2000 was 18, meaning that 18 of every 100 pregnancies (live births and abortions) ended in abortion; the low estimate is 16 and the high estimate is 21.

6. Manila has the highest proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion (one in three), compared with about one in five in the rest of Luzon and about one in eight in Visayas and Mindanao.

7. 36 percent of Filipino women become pregnant before marriage and 45 percent of all pregnancies are either unwanted or ill-timed, according to the World Health Organization.

8. About 4 in 5 abortions in the Philippines are for economic reasons, according to a survey by the University of the Philippines. In many cases, said Jocelyn Pacete, a spokeswoman for Likhaan, a women's health group based in Manila, "the mother can't afford another child, so ends up choosing her five living children over the fetus in her womb."

9. Doctors who perform abortions clandestinely in clinics typically charge 2,000 to 5,000 pesos, or $37 to $93, according to one report. Many Filipinos cannot afford such fees, so they turn to Quiapo Church or to one of several other churches around the country near which abortifacients are sold.

10. In Quiapo, the best-selling abortifacient is Cytotec, a drug for ulcers. Before it was banned largely through the lobbying efforts of Pro-Life Philippines, Cytotec could be bought over the counter for 20 pesos. Today, it sells on the black market for 50 to 120 pesos per tablet. Most of the Cytotec now circulating is smuggled in from South Korea and Bangkok

These facts and statistics are from Philippines abortion crisis; Religious women turn to illegal procedures, by Carlos H. Conde, International Herald Tribune, Asia-Pacific, May 16, 2005, and from The Incidence of Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Current Level and Recent Trends, by Fatima Juarez, Josefina Cabigon, Susheela Singh and Rubina Hussain; International Family Planning Perspectives, Volume 31, Number 3, September 2005.

Abortion is illegal in the Philippines

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, specifically, Sec. 12, Art. II, pronounces that “the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

Decades before the 1987 Constitution, the New Civil Code of the Philippines contained provisions protecting the unborn. These provisions are:

Art. 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child shall be considered born for all purposes that are favorable to it, provided it be born later with the conditions specified in the following article.

Art. 41. For civil purposes, the fetus is considered born if it is alive at the time it is completely delivered from the mother’s womb. However, if the fetus had an intra-uterine life of less than seven months, it is not deemed born if it dies within twenty four hours after its complete delivery from the maternal womb.
The Revised Penal Code has several provisions penalizing abortion. These are:

  • Article 255 Infanticide
  • Article 256 Intentional abortion
  • Article 257 Unintentional abortion
  • Article 258 Abortion practiced by the woman herself or by her parents
  • Article 259 Abortion practiced by a physician or midwife and dispensing of abortives
I am not aware of any case involving abortion which has reached the Supreme Court. However, the Court of Appeals (9th Division) tackled a medical malpractice suit involving the issues of abortion, ectopic pregnancy and dilatation and curettage in the case of Mrs. Lourdes Rolda versus Dr. Antonio Garcia (CA-G.R. CV NO. 62980). According to the trial court’s findings (which the Court of Appeals upheld), Dr. Garcia disregarded the ultra sound report that indicated “ectopic pregnancy if positive pregnancy test”. Dr. Garcia then proceeded to diagnose the case as one of abortion and subsequently performed dilatation and curettage. Several days after the D and C, after experiencing severe pain and blood discharge, Rolda was treated and operated at a hospital for ectopic pregnancy.
In the decision’s prefatory statement, the Court of Appeals said,
Some 4,000 years ago, the Code of Hammurabi then already provided: 'If a physician make a deep incision upon a man with his bronze lancet and cause the man’s death, or operate on the eye socket of a man with his bronze lancet and destroy the man’s eyes, they shall cut off his hand.'

Subsequently, Hippocrates wrote what was to become part of the healer’s oath: 'I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous…… While I continue to keep this oath unviolated may it be granted me to enjoy life and practice the art, respected by all men at all times but should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot.' At present, the primary objective of the medical profession is the preservation of life and maintenance of the health of the people.”
Inter-generational responsibility; implications on the sanctity of life

In the landmark case of Oposan vs. Factoran, the Supreme Court recognized the concept of inter-generational responsibility. Essentially, the principle means that the present generation holds the natural resource treasures of the earth in trust for the benefit, enjoyment and use of the generations of humankind yet to come. It is therefore a trust endowed upon the present generation as trustee and depository to use and enjoy. While the present generation has the right to use the earth’s resources, as a trustee and depository, it is also duty bound not to misuse or exhaust it, so that those of our species to come in much later years will still have something to use.

In this case, the petitioners, all minors, sought the help of the Supreme Court to order respondent factoran, then Secretary of DENR, to cancel all existing Timber License Agreement (TLA) in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new TLAs. They alleged that the massive commercial logging in the country was causing vast abuses on rainforest. They furthered the rights of their generation and the rights of the generations yet unborn to a balanced and healthful ecology.

Among other things, the Supreme Court justices said that they found no difficulty in ruling that the minors can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of inter-generational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.

While the case revolved the issue of massive deforestation brought about by logging, ecology and the preservation of natural resources, the Court (to my mind)was in effect ruling on the sanctity of life. It would be absurd for our judicial system to uphold the right the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature without recognizing the sanctity of life, especially of the unborn.

HB 3227 (The Moses Law): stopping abortion and child abuse

House Bill 3227 or "The Safe Haven Act or The Moses Law" (authored by Rep. Eduardo Zialcita) permits parents to entrust the custody of their babies, who are up to two months old, to any hospital, medical emergency facility, police or fire station and other government agencies.

The "unwanted" babies will then be taken into the custody the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The parents will not be required to give their names to the recipient of the child, and will be protected from arrest. Rep. Zialcita said he filed the bill "to address the moral degeneration of society as a result of the tragedies caused by abortion, child abuse, neglect and other forms of anti-life and anti-child acts."

Insightful articles and helpful websites on the abortion issue

Psalm 139 is perhaps the Bible’s most eloquent statement against abortion. The psalm goes like this:

1. O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. 5. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10. Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18. If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
I highly recommend to you the following articles and websites on the issue of abortion:

Click here
Click here