As Chile eyes to pass a law that will allow women access to safe and legal abortion services in cases of life-endangerment, rape up to 14 weeks of pregnancy and fatal fetal impairment, the executive director of EnGendeRights, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, commended the country’s Health Commission, and hopes for the Philippines to soon follow suit.
The original bill introduced by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in January permitted women access to safe and legal abortion services in cases of life-endangerment, sexual violence, and fatal fetal impairments. An amended version (with rape survivors given access to safe abortion services from 18 to 14 weeks of pregnancy) will now be examined by the lower house of Chile’s Congress, which will vote on it later this month.
“The Philippines has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world where the law does not provide any clear exceptions even on danger to the health and life of the woman, rape or incest, fatal fetal impairment or serious fetal malformation incompatible with life outside the uterus or up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The Philippine government must address this public health issue by allowing access to safe and legal abortion. The long-standing lack of comprehensive and effective access to sexuality education, lack of access to the full range of contraceptive methods, low contraceptive use, inconsistent and improper use of contraceptives, known failure rate of contraceptives although minimal, and the high incidence of rape impact on unintended and unwanted pregnancies in our country,” Padilla said.
Over half of the pregnancies of Filipino women are unintended and about one-third of these end in abortion in the National Capital Region alone, while 17% of these end in abortion nationwide.
Related to this, rape is a prevailing problem in the Philippines, “where one woman is raped every 72 seconds and there are about three women who die every day and over 100,000 women who are hospitalized due to complications from unsafe abortion. Just this August, a 21-year old rape victim with dwarfism condition who became pregnant as a result of rape, died a day after giving birth due to childbirth complications. Her mother lamented that her daughter might be alive today had her daughter been able to access safe and legal abortion,” Padilla said.
This is also an issue for the LGBT community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), particularly lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women; and 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians. Also, 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to nine percent of heterosexual women.