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Joint Statement and Call to Action for Philippine Government to Address Grave Violations of Women’s Rights

Joint Statement for the Philippine Congress to Examine the Harmful Impact of the Total Criminal Ban on Abortion

In commemoration of the May 28 International Day of Action for Women's Health, the following organizations and individuals issue this joint statement and call to action for the Philippine government to address the grave and systematic violations of women’s reproductive rights as found by the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) released last April 29, 2015:

WE WELCOME the report of the CEDAW Committee on the inquiry conducted in the Philippines last November 2012, finding the Philippine government accountable for grave and systemic violations of women's rights, particularly its failure to provide access to the full range of contraceptive information and services resulting in unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and unnecessary and preventable maternal deaths as a consequence of the implementation of Executive Order (EO) Nos. 003 and 030 in the City of Manila.

WE HIGHLIGHT the finding of the CEDAW Committee that the failure to ensure access to modern methods of contraception and the lack of resource allocation for contraceptives had detrimental consequences to the lives and health of disadvantaged women including poor women and adolescent girls and women in abusive relationships who were deprived of an opportunity to control and space their number of children, impacting their rights to education and employment, and driving them further into poverty.

WE UNDERSCORE the finding of the CEDAW Committee that the strict criminalization of abortion without any exemptions led to higher rates of unsafe abortions and increased maternal morbidity and mortality.

WE STRESS the finding of the CEDAW Committee that the safeguards and oversight mechanisms under Philippine law have not been sufficiently established to ensure that women were not discriminated against as a result of the devolution of health services to the local level.

WE EMPHASIZE that the government’s failure to provide the full range of contraceptive services and information amounted to violations of rights protected under the CEDAW Convention to which the Philippines is a State Party, as well as the Philippine Constitution and the country’s Magna Carta of Women – women’s right to equality and non-discrimination.

WE EXPRESS concern that, as documented by the CEDAW Committee, the State party failed to address the effects of the implementation of EO 003 and EO 030 and, between 2004 and 2010, has at times either supported or condoned the policies of the City of Manila.

WE URGE the Philippine government to hold accountable, all those responsible for the reproductive rights violations and to ensure that women are given access to effective legal remedies to ensure redress for violations of their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

WE DEMAND that the Philippine government comply with its human rights obligations and take immediate steps to:

  1. ensure universal and affordable access to modern methods of contraceptive information, services, and goods  including emergency contraceptives;
  2. establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms to ensure compliance with international obligations and national health laws and policies;
  3. eliminate all ideological barriers limiting women’s access to sexual reproductive health services, commodities and information;
  4. provide legal access to life-saving drugs such as misoprostol to treat incomplete abortion or miscarriage;
  5. provide access to humane, nonjudgmental and quality post abortion care as guaranteed under Philippine laws and ensure that women experiencing abortion-related complications are not reported to the law enforcement authorities and threatened with arrest; and
  6. decriminalize abortion on justified grounds and all other cases where women undergo abortion.

Quezon City, May 28, 2015

Signed:

Center for Reproductive Rights

EnGendeRights

Filipino Freethinkers

Florence Macagba Tadiar, MD (former ED, ISSA and WHCF)

Population Services Pilipinas Incorporated

Sarah Jane Biton, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) Youth Champion

Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights

For more information, please contact Atty. Clara Rita Padilla (Executive Director, EnGendeRights) at mobile 63 918 218 2682, landline 63 2 376 2578, or email engenderights@gmail.com and padillaclara@yahoo.com.