PHILIPPINES – “Justice” Minister rejects decriminalising abortion

The Philippines Justice Minister rejected outright the recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Council following the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to legalise same-sex marriage, as well as to allow safe abortion and divorce. The Justice Minister told the Council that the proposal was “not acceptable”, that the country was “culturally not ready for it”, and anyway, it was up to their own legislature to decide these things.

Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez said the recommendations were rejected outright by the Philippine delegation “because of national identity, our religious beliefs and our cultural traditions and the Philippine sovereignty that need to be protected and upheld at all times.”

Others say it’s time for the Philippines to get rid of “inhumane provisions” in its abortion law and finally decriminalize abortion to save women’s lives. “These regulations have only led to a silent epidemic of unsafe abortions which have cost the lives of so many Filipina women,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros, the country’s new opposition leader. “We should also not be sending women to jail after such difficult and painful experiences.”

The practice of unsafe underground abortions has to stop, Hontiveros said. She also reiterated the importance of destigmatizing abortion as a national step for the country. “Women must vigilantly protect our rights and freedoms especially amid the rise of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism in many countries across the globe,” Hontiveros said. “I fully support the push to decriminalise abortion under Philippine laws.”

SOURCES: The Manila Times, by Franco Jose C Baroña. 22 November 2022 ; CNN, by Heather Chen, 18 July 2022 ; Girls Globe, Make unsafe abortion history, visual for 28 September 2021