Editorial: Hope for innocents-A A +A
Sunday, August 5, 2012
TWO fetuses were discovered dumped, one after the other, just four days apart.
According to the Aug. 4 report of Sun.Star Cebu’s Rebelander S. Basilan, the first fetus was buried under garbage in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City. The second fetus was placed inside a tin can found outside the kitchen of a Basak resident.
Both fetuses were estimated to be from four to five months old. The Revised Penal Code criminalizes abortion. Imprisonment is meted out to a woman who undergoes abortion, as well as any person assisting the procedure.
Aside from being a crime, abortion is viewed by Filipinos as repugnant, violating religious and social norms. Thus, it is no surprise that abortions and the disposal of fetuses are carried out in stealth.
Yet what of the women who resort to illegal abortions and endanger their lives? What were their reasons for resorting to this desperate means? Should their welfare not be a public concern?
Abortion is equated by many as murder. For committing a deed that that takes a taboo from the realm of the unspeakable to the unjustifiable, women who undergo abortion are judged as wronging more than being wronged.
Yet, criminalizing and banning abortion have not led to its abating. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitored that in countries where abortion is illegal, women are driven to self-abort or seek other illegal and thus unsafe means.
Illegal abortionists extort exorbitant fees. Poor women go to folk healers or quacks for cheap but still dangerous herbal abortifacients. The WHO data show that four out of five abortions are induced by women who already have several children, are unable to support more, and are tragically unable to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Many women are routinely raped, forced to have unprotected sex by partners who demand copulation as a right and contraception, an inconvenience.
The tragedy spirals on. According to WHO, aside from the 47,000 women dying of unsafe abortions every year around the world, another five million suffer temporary or permanent injuries, like severe bleeding, infection, injury of the uterus or genitals, and infertility.
In 2008, 21.6 million unsafe abortions were carried out in developing countries.
Performed by the untrained and carried out under conditions of poor hygiene, deaths occur. Illegal abortions cause nearly 13 percent of all maternal deaths, reveals the WHO.
Ranged against those who view abortion as a crime and a sin are advocates such as the EnGendeRights, which has called for the law to be amended so that women can have access to legal and safe abortions and post-abortion care, given exceptional circumstances, such as when the woman’s life is endangered or when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
As preventive measure, reproductive health education must be accessible to women and men.
In an article uploaded on www.abs-cbnnews.com, EnGendeRights points out the need for health clinics and public hospitals to disseminate reproductive health information and provide related services, especially to the masses made vulnerable by lack of education and resources.
Activists have also denounced hospitals and health care givers for refusing or delaying medical interventions to women who underwent illegal abortion or suffer from related complications.
Education and coun-seling on sexuality and relationships must also be prioritized for adolescents. While conservatives have attacked sex education incorporated with class lessons as promoting sexual experimentation and promiscuity, proper training and sensitivity handling will help moderators maximize counseling and dialogue to guide youths and steer them towards self-actualization choices.
Education, sports, volunteerism, livelihood and entrepreneurship provide youths with alternatives to premarital sex, unwanted pregnancy and early marriage.
Through education and informed choices, women will not be driven to illegal and unsafe abortion.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 06, 2012.