The topic of abortion has been quite contentious, leading to multiple arguments and encouraging the expression of polarizing opinions. In the sociocultural context of the Philippines, the problem of access to abortion services has been particularly poignant (Guillaume et al., 2018; De Leon & Jintalan, 2018). Since the ability to access abortion services defines women’s autonomy as a patient, as well as their agency over their own bodies, abortion services must be legalized in the Philippine context so that women can use the relevant healthcare opportunities.
Legalizing abortions will allow making a crucial step toward improving the extent of women’s personal autonomy, as well as their autonomy as patients. Given that pregnancy leads to a range of health-related challenges and may have devastating outcomes for women unless their health is in impeccable condition, abortion must be recognized as their human right (Cabello & Gaitán, 2021; Donnelly & Murray, 2020). Therefore, appropriate changes to the Philippine legislation must be made to provide its female citizens with abortion opportunities.
Moreover, the issue of non-maleficence must be addressed as one of the main concerns in the argument. While prohibiting abortion on the statewide level will make the relevant healthcare opportunities unavailable, it is likely to lead to a rise in the number of abortions made in unsanitary and unsafe environments that represent a tremendous threat to women (Pizzarossa & Skuster, 2021; Harris & Grossman, 2020). A study by Mulumba (2020) reveals that prohibiting abortions, indeed, causes a rise in self-managed abortions that have largely negative health outcomes. Specifically, Mulumba (2020, p. 16) articulates clearly that “Complications and deaths resulting from unsafe abortion keep on afflicting plenty of women’s lives, overwhelmingly in developing regions.” Therefore, it is vital to provide women with an opportunity to have access to proper healthcare to ensure that the principles of non-maleficence as the foundational concept of healthcare ethics are followed.
However, multiple obstacles to legalizing abortion in the Philippines must be considered before introducing appropriate legislation. First and most obvious, cultural issues should be addressed as the driving force for reducing access to abortion for Philippine women. According to the available statistics, Roman Catholicism accounts for 86% of the Philippine population (Miller, 2021). Given the rigid stance that Roman Catholicism takes on the issue of abortion, ensuring that Philippine women have free access to abortion services is likely to be quite complicated (Goncena, 2020). In addition, increasing poverty rates reduce the accessibility of respective services, thus, making it even less possible for Philippine women to gain an opportunity to birth control (Melgar et al., 2018). When combined, the specified factors indicate a tremendous urgency for establishing a further dialogue with the Philippine community and seeking a compromise regarding the planned parenthood options, namely, the chance for women to have an option of aborting their pregnancy.
By introducing abortion opportunities into the Philippine community, one will increase the extent and efficacy of women’s healthcare, while also supporting a rise in women’s agency. Namely, offering abortion services to Philippine women will give them an opportunity for economic and social liberation. With the introduction of abortion services, Philippine women will gain autonomy over their bodies by being able to make a conscious choice, which will imply making an essential step in dismantling the years of patriarchal oppression. Moreover, by offering abortion services to the target demographic, one will create premises for improving the economic status of Philippine women since an increase in poverty is highly correlated with the lack of birth control options in Philippine households.
Cabello, A. L., & Gaitán, A. C. (2021). Safe abortion in women’s hands: Autonomy and a human rights approach to COVID-19 and beyond. Health and Human Rights, 23(1), 191.
De Leon, J. A., & Jintalan, J. (2018). Accepted or not: Homosexuality, media, and the culture of silence in the Philippine society. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 34(3). Web.
Donnelly, M., & Murray, C. (2020). Abortion care in Ireland: developing legal and ethical frameworks for conscientious provision. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 148(1), 127-132. Web.
Goncena, A. R. (2020). Reproductive health in the Philippines: Poverty, religiosity, and navigating reproductive choices. Chapman University.
Guillaume, A., Rossier, C., & Reeve, P. (2018). Abortion around the world. An overview of legislation, measures, trends, and consequences. Population, 73(2), 217-306. Web.
Harris, L. H., & Grossman, D. (2020). Complications of unsafe and self-managed abortion. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(11), 1029-1040. Web.
Melgar, J. L., Melgar, A. R., Festin, M. P. R., Hoopes, A. J., & Chandra-Mouli, V. (2018). Assessment of country policies affecting reproductive health for adolescents in the Philippines. Reproductive Health, 15(1), 1-13. Web.
Miller, J. (2021). Religion in the Philippines. Asia Society. Web.
Mulumba, B. K. (2020). Legalization, safer and more preventive than restriction: Clandestine and unsafe abortion consequences in developing countries versus legal and safe abortion benefits in developed countries. Aegean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2(2), 14-18. Web.
Pizzarossa, L. B., & Skuster, P. (2021). Toward human rights and evidence-based legal frameworks for (self-managed) abortion: A review of the last decade of legal reform. Health and Human Rights, 23(1), 199.