Philippines: Time to Take Action

The Center for Reproductive Rights is calling on the Philippines—a country with one of the worst human rights records on protecting women's health— to adopt and implement a set of key recommendations on reproductive health before a panel of its peers at the United Nations.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, a body of countries that peer-review other countries' human rights records, called on the Philippines to take a number of steps to better meet its human rights obligations to women in the country. The Council specifically recommended the following steps to the government:

  • Start enforcing the Magna Carta of Women, a current law that protect women's health and rights, in all fields including sexual and reproductive health;
  • Enact legislation that guarantees women's access to reproductive health care, and to make sure that there are enough funds to implement such a policy;
  • Take steps to ensure the rights of individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to the highest attainable standard of sexual and reproductive health;
  • Strengthen its protections of maternal health care as a matter of urgency, including by providing access to sexual and reproductive health information.

As it stands now, the Philippines has some of the most restrictive laws and policies around reproductive health in the world, including a criminal ban on abortion without any clear exceptions and legal barriers to information on contraception and access to the full range of services. These measures have forced millions of women, particularly poor women, into pregnancy and childbirth. And tens of thousands resort to unsafe abortion, risking medical complications and death.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has been working in the Philippines to improve women's access to reproductive health care for years, filing litigation and exposing human rights abuses resulting from these policies. Prior to the Philippines' review, the Center submitted information to the Council recommending that the panel call for urgent reform.

The Philippines surprisingly expressed support for the Council's recommendations. The Center strongly encourages the government to follow through and implement all of these suggested changes in its laws and policies.

The Center also calls on the Philippines to adopt a recommendation urging the government to amend its abortion law to allow for safe abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when a woman's health or life is endangered, which the government has said it will consider and provide its acceptance or rejection of in the next review session.