#Sept28: Let's talk about abortion
I expressed my support for women's reproductive rights when I joined women from a local non-profit organization called Likhaan. I had attended the Supreme Court hearing on the Reproductive Health (RH) law recently.
Today, I join thousands of women around the world to boldly support the September 28 Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. It is a call to action in over 50 countries to end the discrimination against women and girls and the stigma of having had an abortion.
Here in the Philippines alone, women who have had to undergo back alley and unsafe abortions face criminalization. And yet, a number of Filipina women are still resorting to unsafe methods to terminate their pregnancies.
The word itself is a topic people refuse to talk about. I know of many friends who have undergone these procedures and are silenced by the stigma surrounding this topic. Abortion is not something we can talk about openly, because of the fear of other people's judgment and scrutiny.
The numbers are quite astounding on a global scale. Around 47,000 women around the world die annually from unsafe abortions, which accounts for 13% of maternal deaths worldwide. Most of these women come from developing countries, where even access to contraception and family planning methods are restricted. The Philippines is a prime example.
A brief produced by the Guttmacher Institute entitled, “Unintended Pregnancy and Unsafe Abortion in the Philippines” says that about 1,000 Filipinas die each year from post-abortion complications. The fact that abortion under all circumstances is illegal in the Philippines does not stop women who still seek to terminate their unintended pregnancies.
There are many reasons why a woman would seek to end her pregnancy. The woman could be a victim of rape or incest. Her life may be at risk, as there may be fatal fetal abnormalities. Most women cite socio-economic reasons, such as having more children than they can already financially care for. There are women who took every precaution, and yet their contraceptives still failed.
It seems that every person, when asked, has a degree of threshold for the subject. We can all start by simply having a discussion about the subject of abortion.
Need for post-abortive care
I personally spoke to Kathy Mulville at the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), and she shared the "need to address the issue of unsafe abortion if we want to address the high rates of maternal mortality."
"Otherwise, all efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5 will remain fruitless," she added.
Mulville is the executive director of Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), one of the organizations spearheading the September 28 campaign.
To help destigmatize post-abortive care, which is when complications arise after unsafe abortion methods are sought out, the government should train more providers of contraceptive services. Policymakers and governmental agencies should not delay the implementation of the RH law any further to help decrease the cases of women seeking illegal abortions.
Join the conversation
Watch this to get a better understanding of the crisis on sexual and reproductive health rights, particularly access to safe and legal abortions here:
People around the world will also mobilize Twitter to bring the abortion discussion out in the open (Use the hashtags #Sept28 and #SafeAbortion).
Go to www.September28.org/mural to see the virtual mural that visually represents people’s thoughts and feelings on abortion from all over the world.
Join the conversation on how you feel about abortion. - Rappler.com