When one middle-upper-class lay Catholic woman official vehemently disputed the national abortion statistics and denied the frequency of the practice, one by one the grassroots women stood up and countered her assertions, replying respectfully but firmly that abortion was indeed occurring in their parishes. “Totoo po iyon. Iyon po ang ginagawa ng mga babae sa amin kapag ayaw na nilang magkaanak” [It’s true. That’s what women do in our place when they don’t want to have any more babies”], she said.
Poor women in the Filipines struggling to raise many children on little money, and without access to birth control are using abortion as birth control. In the year 2000 an estimated 473,400 women had abortions (including natural and induced.) of those 105,000 had complications and 12,600 died. These stats may be on the low side however as the subject is clouded in silence. As one women opined, “Sino ba namang babae, Ma’am, ang magpapalista na nagpa-aborsyon siya?” [“Ma’am, what woman in her right mind would report that she had an abortion?”]
Filipinos over the age of 15 are required to take an eight-week course on Catholic sexual teachings, after which they can buy a card showing they have completed the course and are eligible to receive the sacraments. Those without such a card have been denied communion and burial. Some priests obtained lists of women who had had IUDs inserted and instructed them to remove the devices
Church indifference to women, to women’s emotional and physical health, and reproductive issues can be seen clearly and starkly in this quote;
The Catholic campaign against emergency contraception has made it unavailable in most Catholic hospitals, even when such a hospital is the only one available in its area and the person requesting EC is not a Catholic. The most brutal example of Catholic clerical insensitivity to women is the church’s opposition to the distribution of EC to refugee women from Kosovo who had fled to camps after having been raped in the war. This view of the woman made pregnant by rape in war is also illustrated by the appeal in 1993 by Pope John Paul II to Bosnian Muslim women who had been raped to turn their rapes into acts of love by “accepting the enemy into them” and carrying their pregnancies to term.
This is what life is like for women in El Salvador
Abortion was thus defined in El Salvador as murder from the first moment of conception. The abortion provider faces a prison term of 6-12 years, those who help her face 2-5 years, and the woman herself faces 2-8 years for abortion in the first trimester and 30-50 years if the abortion occurs after the first trimester. Under these laws numerous women who had abortions have been imprisoned. One was imprisoned for 30 years for abortion of an 18-week fetus, even though she has three small children who are dependent on her as their sole parent. Most of those who are prosecuted are poor women. The rich continue to have options to fly to Miami or visit a well-paid private doctor. But the poor resort to back-alley abortionists, who often leave them with severe injuries. If they go to a hospital with such injuries, they are taken into custody and examined for evidence of abortion. Women in El Salvador have fallen under a reign of terror in which they and their doctors and friends are at risk of prosecution if there is any indication that they have sought abortion
Some may say these are third world countries with third world policies. While that may be true, they do not differ in having poor people who are subject to different treatment. i.e. Anti-choice groups in the states trying to have contraception and reproductive treatments taken off insurance and out of medicare programs. Thus forcing poor women to have no choice but self induced abortion. Calls for abstinence are ridiculous not only because you have no right to police someone else’s genitals but because the vast majority of these women are in long term relationships or marriages.
Religious groups who feel everyone is entitled to their opinion are trying to have contraception classified as abortion. Not only scientifically ridiculous but a flat out lie. How long will it be before the church or groups affiliated will want your medical records? Hold the phone…they have already asked.
The Wichita grand jury convened after anti-choice organizations dusted off an 1887 law which allows citizens to launch grand jury investigations. The groups allege that Dr. Tiller violated a Kansas law prohibiting post-viability abortions unless a woman’s life or health is in danger. The grand jury first met on January 8, 2008, and soon thereafter, subpoenaed the records of every patient who was twenty-two weeks pregnant or more and visited Dr. Tiller’s clinic Women’s Health Care Services from July 1, 2003 on
We need to ask our questions now, vote for our rights now, so that this does not become our dialogue
Finally, one parish worker appealed to the six bishops present, “Ano pong masasabi namin sa kanila kapag naghahanap sila ng payo sa amin, kung talagang hindi na puwede sa kanila na mabuntis?” [“What do we tell women seeking our advice if they really don’t want to go through another pregnancy?”] She did not get an answer.
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