MANILA, Philippines – The ruling on the RH law is a victory for advocates, who say it’s time issues on women’s health are addressed. (WATCH: SC: Reproductive Health law constitutional)
Church groups have repeatedly criticized the law, saying it promotes abortion.
But pro-RH Health Secretary Enrique Ona says that to stop abortion, women need to have accurate information to deal with high-risk pregnancies. (READ: Ona: Let’s stop abortion)
A theatrical presentation brings the true stories of Filipina women and the impact of abortion on their lives.
The exclusive event gathered local and international delegates of the Asian Pacific Conference on Sexual Health and Reproduction.
G Töngi reports.
Breaking the Silence is a collection of monologues and true stories about Filipino women who have gone through abortion.
Its aim: to break the silence and remove the stigma on a taboo topic. Actresses live the stories of Filipino women who openly shared their experience of going through the difficult decision of terminating a pregnancy.
G TÖNGI, RAPPLER COLUMNIST: Lets start with one simple incontrovertible fact. Abortion is very common in the Philippines.
PINKY AMADOR: It’s a tragically simple cycle. Abortion laws lead to stigmatization, stigmatization leads to unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortions lead to blood and pain and sickness.
Likhaan founder Dr. Junice Melgar says its about time we discuss abortion.
JUNICE MELGAR, LIKHAAN: It is a very historic occasion, for the women who are completely denied information and services on abortion. It is important because women are dying. Families are losing their mothers, even young people who are denied abortions are losing their lives and their future and it should not be happening. It should not be happening to half of the population of the Philippines!
A Guttmacher Institute study in 2008 says around 1,000 maternal deaths in the Philippines were caused by abortion complications. Nearly one quarter of the 2,039 hospitals in the Philippines cited abortion complications as one of the top ten admissions of patients.
Red Tani of the Filipino Freethinkers says “Breaking The Silence” does not advocate legalizing abortion.
RED TANI, FILIPINO FREETHINKERS PRESIDENT: A lot of women are affected by this issue and not only women but families. A lot of them have died because of induced abortions. Even before legalization, we should start by talking about these issues. We shouldn’t rely on authority and tradition to dictate to us what we should believe, or how we should act. We live in a scientific and democratic time.
The reality is, sexually active women aged 15-24 has increased from 25% in 1998 to 32% in 2008. Among first time mothers, the number of teenagers increased from 20% in 2000 to 27% in 2010.
Reproductive health advocate Carlos Celdran says reproductive health education is the first step to reduce illegal abortions in the Philippines.
CARLOS CELDRAN, RH ADVOCATE: If we don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean that it’s gonna go away! Ignorance equals death! This thing is a specter hanging over our head and 11 mothers a day as you know die in this country because they have no access to reproductive health or reproductive health options. So education is the first key to empowerment. You empower the mother, you empower the family and you will empower society.
Kathy Mulville of Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights encourages Filipino women to speak up.
KATHY MULVILLE, WGNRR DIRECTOR: We know that stats worldwide are 1 in 3 women have abortions! Every single woman in the Philippines, i deny any woman to tell me that she does not know a mother, a sister and auntie, a neighbor who hasn’t had to have an abortion. Therefore it touches all our lives and how can something that touches everybody’s lives be the one thing that’s not spoken about? We have to change the situation!
Breaking the Silence tells women find your voice and take control of your lives.
G Töngi, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com