This week, we continue with alarming facts and figures on unintended pregnancies and that which leads to abortion. These figures are cited to validate realities that should start forcing us a society to speak about the unspeakable.
This is not to say that we are therefore advocating legalized abortion. Although we are aware that some reproductive health rights advocate would go as far. Point is, there is an urgent need for actions in many fronts to reduce levels of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion in the Philippines. Young people as well as adults, need complete and accurate information on reproductive health and contraception, the risks of unsafe abortion, and the health and societal benefits of family planning.
The average Filipino woman wants 2.5 children. In order to achieve that goal, she must spend more than 19 years using effective contraceptive methods.
Some 54% of women who have ended an unintended pregnancy by abortion are not using any family planning method when they conceived. Of those who were practicing contraception, three-fourths were using a traditional method.
The figures in CAR are much lower but it is still the 3rd highest abortion rate in the Philippines at 34 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 per year.
The Guttmacher survey likewise revealed hat nearly half of all married women of reproductive age have an unmet need for effective contraception – that is, they are sexually active, are able to have children, do not want a child soon or ever, but are not using any form of contraception or are using traditional methods, which have high failure rates.
Fact is, induced abortion is widespread, and its practice takes many forms
An estimated half a million abortions occur annually. One third of women who experience unintended pregnancy end it in abortion.
Women from all segments of society experience abortion. Women who have had an abortion resemble average Filipino women: The majority are married, Catholic and poor. They have some high school education and have already had several children.
When asked why they sought an abortion, 72% of women cite the economic cost of raising a child: 54% say they have enough children; and 57% report that the pregnancy occurred too soon after their last one.
Most women do not make the decision to end a pregnancy alone. Forty – three percent consult their husband or partner, and 25% discuss the matter with a friend or relative.
Only 30% of women who attempt abortion succeed in having one, and many women try again and again to end a pregnancy. With each unsafe attempt at ending her pregnancy – successful or not – a woman increases the risk to her life and health.