Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
What do famous men and women have said about abortion?
“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born,” said American President Ronald Reagan. “(I)t seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime,” wrote Mahatma Gandhi in All Men are Brothers: Autobiographic Reflections.
Caitlin Moran, in How to be a Woman, penned: “I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that center on the sanctity of life. As a species, we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and life-long poverty shows us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.”
Nobel Peace laureate Mother Teresa considered abortion as today’s greatest destroyed of peace. “Because it is a war against the child,” she explained. “A direct killing of the innocent child, ‘Murder’ by the mother herself… And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body,” said Margaret Sanger. To which Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see it.”
Michael Bassey Johnson stated, “Just as the unwanted pregnancy, there are unwanted people in your life you should strive to abort, and such abortion is not a sin, nor harm, but the eradication of a destructive fetus.”
In The Way Things Ought to Be, Rush Limbaugh wrote: “Militant feminists are pro-choice because it’s their ultimate avenue of power over men. And believe me, to them it is a question of power. It is their attempt to impose their own will on the rest of society, particularly on men.”
Now comes this statement from Atty. Luke Espiritu, a senatorial bet: “I don’t consider abortion murder. I consider it as a choice of women over their own bodies. I am a man, what right do I have to tell a woman what to do with her body?”
He also said, “Poor women in our country have died by abortions done in an unhealthy environment or through unhealthy methods.”
Atty. Espiritu is indirectly supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). “Being able to obtain safe abortion is a crucial part of health care,” saidCraig Lissner, acting director for sexual and reproductive health and research at WHO. “Nearly every death and injury that results from unsafe abortion is entirely preventable. That’s why we recommend women and girls can access abortion and family planning services when they need them.”
When abortion is carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the duration of the pregnancy and assisted by someone with the necessary information or skills, it is a simple and extremely safe procedure.
Tragically, however, only around half of all abortions take place under such conditions, with unsafe abortions causing around 39,000 deaths every year and resulting in millions more women hospitalized with complications. Most of these deaths are concentrated in lower-income countries – with 30% in Asia, including the Philippines! – and among those living in the most vulnerable situations.
Evidence shows that restricting access to abortions does not reduce the number of abortions that take place. In fact, restrictions are more likely to drive women and girls towards unsafe procedures. In countries where abortion is most restricted, only 1 in 4 abortions are safe, compared to nearly 9 in 10 in countries where the procedure is broadly legal.
“The evidence is clear – if you want to prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, you need to provide women and girls with a comprehensive package of sexuality education, accurate family planning information and services, and access to quality abortion care,” said Dr. Bela Ganatra, head of WHO’s prevention of unsafe abortion unit.
In the Philippines, about 610,000 abortions are done annually, based on a study conducted in 2012.
As it is illegal in the country, abortion has made the practice very dangerous for women. In the 2012 study, over 100,000 women were hospitalized as a result of abortion. What is even more repulsive is that 3 women die every day due to unsafe abortion complication.
There are actually two types of abortion: therapeutic and selective. In medical parlance, therapeutic abortion means terminating the pregnancy of a woman if it threatens her life, and the fetus is not viable ex utero.
Generally, therapeutic abortion is done in any of these situations: when there is a risk of maternal survival caused by the embryo and when the pregnancy impairs maternal life.
“One situation that I can think of wherein the life of the mother is in danger is ectopic pregnancy,” Dr. Nelly Quintin-Dela Cruz, a consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Manila Doctors Hospital, was quoted as saying. “This may endanger the life of the mother especially if it ruptures inside and causes profuse internal bleeding.”
Selective abortion, on the other hand, is terminating a pregnancy due to the fetus having undesirable characteristics. The reasons for the abortion are due to: fetus being defective, fetus is product of a rape, the parent is not ready to have a child, and cultural reasons (like in societies where having a girl is frowned upon, compared to having a boy).
The United Nations considered therapeutic abortion as acceptable, but the Philippines stands firm in its anti-abortion stand. Articles 256, 258 and 259 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines mandate imprisonments 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 undertaken “in order to conceal (the woman’s) dishonor.”