Lawyer prepares draft bill decriminalizing abortion, earns support and condemnation

Lawyer Clara Padilla showing a copy of the draft bill. Photo: Padilla/FB
Lawyer Clara Padilla showing a copy of the draft bill. Photo: Padilla/FB

A woman’s rights lawyer publicly announced last week that she had prepared a proposed draft bill that would seek to decriminalize abortion in the country, a move that earned her massive praise as well as criticism.

In her online statement, Clara Rita Padilla, the executive director of the organization EnGenderRights wrote, “Amidst the COVID-19 havoc, here is the bill I’m finalizing to decriminalize abortion in the Philippines. This bill when passed into law can save women’s lives.”

“The law imposing penalties on women who induce abortion and those assisting them has never lowered the number of women inducing abortion. It has only made it dangerous for women who undergo [a] clandestine and unsafe abortion. With abortion decriminalized, women will have access to safe abortion, thus, averting maternal deaths and disability from unsafe abortion complications,” Padilla added in her statement, which has been shared by nearly 8,000 people online.
Padilla also attached a photo of herself holding a copy of the proposed law, entitled the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) Decriminalizing Abortion to Save Women’s Lives bill. PINSAN is a five-year-old organization that’s leading the campaign to decriminalize abortion in the country. At present, the medical procedure is restricted in the Philippines and is not expressly allowed in cases of rape or incest. Women who seek to have abortions may be imprisoned, as well as healthcare workers who give the medical procedure.

Read: A Bitter Pill: As abortion laws tumble in other Catholic countries, Filipinas still rely on black market meds

In a statement sent to Coconuts Manila, Padilla said that Filipinas who suffered from complications of abortions are denied medical treatment because of the law that criminalizes the procedure “and the prevalence of imposition of religious morality on women seeking access to abortion as basic health care.  Such religious morality is imposed by certain health care providers.”

She claimed that in 2012, three Filipinas would die every day due to complications from botched abortions.

“[B]ased on statistics, the number of women dying from unsafe abortion complications increases proportionately with the increasing Philippine population.  In 2012 alone, there were already 610,000 Filipino women who [had] induced abortion, over 100,000 who were hospitalized, and 1000 women who died.  Certainly, we don’t want women to die or suffer disability from unsafe abortion.”

“This is why it is urgent that abortion is decriminalized in the Philippines soonest as we will constantly be faced with the public health issue of women dying and suffering disability from complications from unsafe abortion and spontaneous abortions.  Women’s lives and health are at stake.  We need to decriminalize abortion now, not later,” she added.

At present, Padilla and her allies have yet to find a lawmaker who will sponsor the proposed bill, but her announcement has led to an outpouring of support from the public. However, Padilla was also vociferously criticized by some Filipinos, such as Ting Ash, who wrote, “Stop this evil act. This is why we are facing so many disasters because of such evil ideas, coming from people who only think of evil deeds.”

Image: Padilla/FB
Image: Padilla/FB

The lawyer remains unfazed amidst all these attacks.

“Antagonists can’t impose their beliefs and religious morals on those who support the decriminalization of abortion. They can’t use the Bible because there’s the Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state and non-establishment of religion,” Padilla said.

“Just because of this post, many people have told me that they have friends who died from unsafe abortion and one was [even] raped by her [own] father,” the lawyer added.


Do you support the decriminalization of abortion? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.

Update: The article has been slightly changed to clarify details about the Philippines’ abortion laws.

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