Pregnancy is supposed to be a wanted and happy event for women, their partners and families.   Unfortunately, this is not always so.  I remember losing all the strength when while goofing around my brother’s mobile a shock message from his now ex-girlfriend came in à “delayed mens ko”

            His life, from birth and my dreams for him (which I didn’t know even existed) flashed on my mind with images of it going farther and farther away.  It is by far my closest danger call to an unplanned pregnancy – albeit experienced vicariously. But that very night, I had to sit down with him as we reviewed the reproductive health plan (or lack of it) of an eighteen year old and his then girlfriend.  False alarm and perhaps learned from it.  I would have wanted to talk to her, if only to share my personal reproductive health plan and her other options.   But for now she’s “safe” and yes she got lucky.   

       Sadly, more than 1.43 million women each year are not as lucky.  Each year in the
Philippines, about a million and a half women become pregnant without intending to.  Statistics even say that six out of ten Filipino women say the have experienced an unintended pregnancy at some point in their lives.    

          For purposes of humanizing the statistics, these are women of reproductive age (18-44) – she could be your neighbor; the nursing student on duty on her way home; a mother of four who is well aware that they could not afford one more; a naïve then virgin who succumbed to her desires at her boyfriend’s prodding; or a rape victim.  She is nameless even faceless but whom you might have walked past to in Session Road or the public market.   

          Anong nangyari?  What happened? Or one would even say, I don’t even know with why I got pregnant.  Unintended pregnancies are often immediately associated with emotions, disappointment and more shock that ultimately amounts to the economics of raising a baby.   

Unintended pregnancies are influenced by a complex web of factors ranging from sexual behavior and attitudes and societal factors.  It is not a mere case of having one sex too many and as a term that was commonly used a decade or so ago – disgrasya.  And the woman who has gotten pregnant outside marital union (but not necessarily outside consensual union) is labeled as disgrasyada.   

Disgrasyada* is used less and less, but still unintended pregnancies are practically reduced to the issue of sexual behavior until now.  An attitude which only reveals our lack or understanding of the gender and social dimensions of unintended pregnancies as a a social issue.              Unintended pregnancies is a woman’s rights issue.  We start recognizing and translating the validity of these 1.43 million unwanted pregnancies each year as a reproductive health concern and social problem.  Only then can we begin to understand and find solutions to this growing problem.  Indeed, a new life or a baby is always a Blessing, but so is opening our eyes to the problem as a reproductive health concern.  (to be continued)

 

*NB: more than half of unintended pregnancies annually however is from married women or from consensual unions who have more than 2 or 3 children and who wish not anymore children