HOST: In light of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law or as most of us know it, the RH Bill, an abundance of organizations and groups claiming they are “pro-life” asserted that passing the bill may pave the way towards legalized abortion in the Philippines. As a country with deeply rooted Catholic beliefs, the Philippine government has always imposed a blanket ban on abortion, with absolutely no exceptions. Many Filipino citizens urge the government to liberalize the law and follow the footsteps of its more established fellow countries in the West. However, there are also quite a number of Filipinos who are all for staying conservative. Today, we have three people well-distinguished in their respective fields to help us understand more about abortion and why it should stay prohibited in the Philippines. We have DOCTOR, LAWYER, and PSYCHOLOGIST. Good morning/afternoon!
[D, L, & P respond]
H: So now, just so we get a clearer picture of the topic in hand, what exactly is abortion?
D: In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost. A spontaneous abortion is the same as a miscarriage – the loss of the fetus before the twenty to twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. The miscarriage of three or more consecutive pregnancies is termed habitual abortion or recurrent pregnancy loss.
L: In Article 2 – Section 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it says that “the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution”. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The act is criminalized by the Revised Penal Code. Articles 256, 258 and 259 of the Code mandate imprisonment for the woman who undergoes the abortion, as well as for any person who assists in the procedure, even if they be the woman’s parents, a physician or midwife. Article 258 further imposes a higher prison term on the woman or her parents if the abortion is proved to be undertaken “in order to conceal [the woman’s] dishonor”. H: So the definition of the term ‘abortion’ seems to be pretty straightforward. The law aspect of it in the Philippines, however, now that’s a whole other topic! I mean, even the woman’s parents can be imprisoned! Now, let’s talk more about what’s behind these abortion cases. What could possibly be the reasons why women choose to abort their babies?
P: Conducted studies show that the [main] gamut of the probable reasons behind abortions relates to financial reasons, relationships, school, and in some ways, even maternal health. Most parents who choose abortions reason that they are not just in a good financial place to raise a baby. Some women give their relationships with the babies’ fathers as the reason. Some say that the babies will just be in the way of their studies, and some reason that their bodies cannot handle pregnancies well. Another possible reason for abortion is because the pregnancy is a result of a traumatic event like rape or incest.
D: Medical reasons for abortion, while not as common, present much more difficult choices for the pregnant woman. Some women end up choosing abortion to prevent the birth of a child with serious medical problems while others have their own medical issues that could mean risking death or severe injury if the pregnancy is carried to term. Amniocentesis, usually performed between 14 and 20 weeks, can detect a variety of chromosome abnormalities, neural tube defects, and genetic disorders. The accuracy of amniocentesis findings is thought to be 99.4 percent. Some parents choose to undergo the procedure because they want to be prepared if they will be having a baby with a medical complication, while others want to be able to decide if the pregnancy should be terminated.
There are also some instances when it is clear that a miscarriage is going to happen. Once it is determined, some women elect to have the fetus removed via abortion, in order to not put their body through the miscarriage process. A miscarriage carries a greater physical risk to a woman’s health than an abortion, and can result in medical complications including hemorrhage, infertility, products of conception being left in the uterus and extensive pain.
H: There are certainly a lot of reasons why women choose to have abortions! But, in spite of this, Filipinos generally condemn abortion. In light of this knowledge, what are your honest thoughts on the procedure? L: To be completely honest, I am against abortion. I believe in every human’s right to live. Also, abortion is strictly prohibited according to the law and it would be unlawful for a woman to undergo the procedure. There is an organization called the Law of Life Project, a part of the Jubilee Campaign. One of their missions is to establish through lawful process the juridical existence of the human person from conception to natural death in all relevant jurisdictions.
P: I, too, am against abortion. There are a lot of psychological risks after undergoing the procedure. Studies show that women who had abortions are 160% more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment than delivering women. At especially high risk are teenagers, separated or divorced women, and women with a history of more than one abortion. Since many post-abortive women use repression as a coping mechanism, there may be a long period of denial before a woman seeks psychiatric care. These repressed feelings may cause psychosomatic illnesses and psychiatric or behavioral in other areas of her life.
As a result, some counselors report that unacknowledged post-abortion distress is the causative factor in many of their female patients, even though their patients have come to them seeking therapy for seemingly unrelated problems. One important factor related to the vulnerability of negative emotional or psychological effects has to do with your belief about the baby inside. For those that believe it is not a baby until it is born, they have less of a chance of negative consequences. However for those who believe it is a baby versus just growing tissue they are more vulnerable for negative effects.
D: I am also anti-abortion. The procedure poses a lot of medical risks for the woman undergoing it. There may be damage to the womb or cervix, uterine perforation (accidentally putting a hole in the uterus with one of the instruments used), excessive bleeding, infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes, scarring of the inside of the uterus, negative reaction to the medicines or anesthesia such as problems in breathing, and not removing all of the tissue with the need for another procedure. Researchers found that compared to women who carried to term, women who aborted in the year prior to their deaths were 60 percent more likely to die of natural causes, seven times more likely to die of suicide, four times more likely to die of injuries related to accidents, and 14 times more likely to die from homicide.
H: Well, there you have it. All of our guests today have negative opinions on abortion. Hopefully, their thoughts and the information they have provided will help you to form your own opinion on the complicated and sensitive matter. Thank you to our guests, and also to the audience for listening! Until next time!