Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday slammed Iceland for recent changes to its abortion policy, suggesting the island nation’s decision to allow abortion as late as the 22nd week leaves it no room to condemn extrajudicial killings that have killed thousands in the Philippines.
Iceland’s been in Duterte’s crosshairs ever since July, when it submitted a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for an investigation into the Philippines’ bloody drug war.
That resolution was supported by 18 out of 47 UNHRC members while 15 abstained. This gave Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet the authority to prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines within a year.
In a speech at the Department of Agrarian Reform’s office in Quezon City, Duterte said that while he supports the use of contraceptives, he would never allow abortion to be legalized in the Philippines. “[A]bortion is out of the question. I will not allow it,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Those wondering why Duterte was bringing up abortion in a speech at a department tied to farmland distribution didn’t have to wait long for the answer.
“But do you know that in Iceland, they allow abortion up to six months [of gestational age]? Iceland allows the slaughter of the fetus inside the womb of the mother up to six months,” he railed. “Those sons of b*tches. They worry more about the drug lords and drug pushers who are killing our citizens and creating a social dysfunction.”
Iceland’s parliament did indeed pass a law in May allowing for the termination of a fetus up until the 22nd week of pregnancy — or just under six months. Some of his other fun facts about the country, however, were slightly shakier.
“I don’t understand those a**holes. Iceland is like that because they eat ice. They don’t have water. These sons of b*tches are idiots,” the president added.
We know, we know. He’s only “joking,” right? So would it be rude to point out that Iceland has enough clean drinking water that it’s safe to drink from the tap, unlike in many parts of the Philippines? And while it’s citizens don’t eat ice, they do love ice cream. But Duterte wasn’t done yet.
“Just imagine, six months? You allow an innocent human being [to be killed that’s] already thriving and living inside the mother’s body,” he continued. “These white people are shameless. And then they’re teaching me how I should do my job. I am sorry for you. That’s why you are condemned there in the ice forever. I hope you will freeze in time.”
Abortion, of course, is not just illegal in the Philippines, many Filipinos believe the medical procedure is highly immoral. In 2013, in a study undertaken by the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of Filipino respondents said that abortion is unacceptable, the highest percentage among any country surveyed. Despite its taboo nature, an estimated 473,000 Filipinas have abortions each year.
Aside from the UNHCR, the International Criminal Court is undertaking a preliminary examination into Duterte’s drug war, in spite of the Philippines’ exit from the organization in March. Human rights organization Amnesty International has called the drug war as “nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise” that has killed thousands of Filipinos living in poor communities.
According to the Philippine National Police, 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016. to May 31, 2019. However, many say the deaths are underreported, with the Commission on Human Rights saying in December that the number could be as high as 27,000.