OPINION Philosophy of Law

Are You In Favor Of Legalizing Abortion In The Philippines? Why?

Are You In Favor Of Legalizing Abortion In The Philippines? Why?

Yes. I am in favor of legalizing abortion in the Philippines. Here’s why.

Why I Agree With The Legalization Of Abortion In The Philippines?

For over a century, abortion has been criminalized in the Philippines. Criminal provisions on abortion do not contain any exceptions allowing abortion. In 2008 alone, the Philippines’ criminal abortion ban was estimated to result in the deaths of at least 1,000 women and complications for 90,000 more. The criminalization of abortion has not prevented abortion, but instead has made the procedure unsafe and potentially deadly[1].

The most prevalent ratiocination is that “life begins at conception,” as the so-called “Pro-Life Advocates” pushed. For so long, this argument seems to hit home that will make you to think twice on favoring abortion. A law-abiding person would normally shy away from advocating abortion, as the Filipino culture is generally pro life. That argument attacks the moral fibers and conscience of the public. It is further solidified by the provisions of the Philiipine laws, particularly the 1987 Constitution that provides “the State xxx shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” Moreover, Articles 256, 258 and 259 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines mandate imprisonment for women who undergo abortion, as well as for any person who assists in the procedure. Article 258 further imposes a higher prison term on the woman or her parents if the abortion is undertaken “in order to conceal [the woman’s] dishonor”.

Life DO NOT Begin At Conception

The contention that “life begins at conception” is no longer scientifically correct. Due to advances in understanding of medical science, it was discovered that when a person’s heart stops beating, they are notdeemed dead. This is why many doctors continue to try to resuscitate people whose hearts have stopped beating as it was discovered that death occurs when all brain activity has halted, rather than when your heart has stopped. As a result, they normally have roughly six minutes before they are unable to resurrect. Beyond that, the brain cells begin to die as they are deprived of oxygen when the heart stops. In fact, people can be aware that they are dead after their heart has stopped beating[2]

In short, the contemporary scientifically and medically accepted basis of life, or lack thereof, is no longer tied in the presence of heart beat, but instead is dependent in the presence of a certain level of brain activities. With it, or falling on the certain levels, death is inevitable. Furthermore, studies have shown that fetuses do not have regular brain activity until 25 weeks[3]. That’s right, the fetus is not deemed scientifically and medically alive until after a little over six months from conception in the mothers womb! Even our law recognizes that 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 reason is  apparently due  to fact that for the same to be alive despite the odds is simply extraordinary. Therefore, I would argue that we are not talking about life in the womb for the most part of the argument.

It Does Not Stop Abortion

While the government has made efforts to improve access to contraceptive services, particularly with the passage of the Reproductive Health Law, still, abortion is illegal under all circumstances and is thus highly stigmatized. Nevertheless, abortion is prevalent in the whole country, but is often performed in unsanitary conditions, using outdated techniques and to some extent, based on folklore and superstitions[4]. In fact, in a 1997, it was found out that despite legal restrictions, in 1994 there were 400,000 abortions performed illegally in the Philippines and 80,000 hospitalizations of women for abortion-related complications[5].

Arrests and convictions of women and abortion providers are commonly reported in local media, and United Nations committees repeatedly note that the abortion ban disproportionately harms socioeconomically disadvantaged women and members of other vulnerable groups. While in practice, abortion is allowed in cases where the pregnant person’s life is at risk, but no law explicitly states this[6]. Besides, the cost of a “seemingly legal” abortion is discouragingly high. In short, those who really need it, cannot afford it. It goes to show that beleaguered women, either those who needed to have abortion or in need of abortion in order to survive, are either facing deaths or jail time, depending on what the outcome of the procedure will be. The only solution is to make abortion legal under certain conditions.

The Conditions Proposed

I proposed that while abortion should be allowed in the country, certain conditions should be set and followed strictly, so as to avoid its wanton disuse. First, medical and scientific community should be consulted to set a certain threshold on up to how long after conception is it safe to say that the fetus is still lifeless. The earlier, the better. Second, in case of surrounding socioeconomic reasons, such as when the family can no longer afford to have another child, it conditions and standards must be set. Also, massive information drive on contraception and reproductive healt should go alongside the implementation of legalized abortion. 

Third, for medical reasons where the mother’s life is in danger or that the fetus is medically prognosed to be with congenital conditions where the same will most probably suffer later in life, among others, there should be certain standards as well as consultations with experts. Finally, for other cases that include but not limited to unwanted child due to rape, incestous relationships, etc., aside from medical consultations, psychological experts should be involved. 

What I am driving at is; we need abortion to be legalized in the Philippines because it is essential for our socioeconomic development and in recognition of the rights of some women who need it, but we need a standard and strict conditions for its implementation to prevent abuse. Those found to abuse the same should be penalized with heavy penalties.



[1] Center for Reproductive Rights. (n.d.). Facts On Abortion In the Philippines: Criminalization And a General Ban On Abortion.

[2] Mandal, MD, D. (2017, October 19). Brain Function Does Not Die Immediately After the Heart Stops Finds Study. News-Medical.net. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20171019/Brain-function-does-not-die-immediately-after-the-heart-stops-finds-study.aspx.

[3] Ryan, T. (2018, May 24). The Moment a Baby’s Brain Starts To Function, And Other Scientific Answers On Abortion. The Irish Times. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/the-moment-a-baby-s-brain-starts-to-function-and-other-scientific-answers-on-abortion-1.3506968.

[4] Finer, L. B., & Hussain, R. (2016, February 25). Unintended Pregnancy And Unsafe Abortion In the Philippines: Context And Consequences. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/unintended-pregnancy-and-unsafe-abortion-philippines-context-and-consequences.

[5] Singh, S., et Al. (2005, July 13). Estimating the Level Of Abortion In the Philippines And Bangladesh. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/ipsrh/1997/09/estimating-level-abortion-philippines-and-bangladesh.

[6] Aspinwall, N. (2019, May 29). Manila’s Abortion Ban Is Killing Women – Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/29/manilas-abortion-ban-is-killing-women/.

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