No apologies: Baguio school defends mandatory pregnancy tests for students

Pines City Colleges in Baguio City. Photo: ABS-CBN News.

Sorry, not sorry.

Pines City Colleges (PCC), a private college located in Baguio City, yesterday defended its policy of conducting mandatory pregnancy tests on its students despite protests from feminists online. PCC defended their policy by saying that their students agreed to undergo pregnancy tests upon their enrolment.

PCC’s practice was divulged by feminist Elizabeth Angsioco yesterday by posting a copy of a memo from the school. Dated Oct. 25, 2018, the document informs students about the mandatory pregnancy test which will occur from Nov. 7 – 9, 2018. Students have to submit their “specimens” to two medical technologists.

Another document allegedly from the school states that pregnant students cannot enroll in certain modules that might harm the life of their fetus.

Angsioco also wrote that the PCC’s policy states that if the student miscarried, she has to prove that she did not commit an abortion.

Angsioco also said that if PCC concludes that the student had an abortion, the student will be expelled.

Netizen Nathalie Verceles posted the same documents on Facebook. In a Facebook chat with Coconuts Manila, she said the documents were obtained from a PCC student. However, she refused to give the name of the said student.

In a statement posted on their Facebook account, PCC said: “Pines City Colleges abides by its policy of pregnancy tests for female students who are enrolling in any subject that would endanger both mother and child. It is a policy agreed to by our students upon their enrollment in this institution. We believe it is a policy protective of our students while they are in our care and are deployed to internship programs in hospitals and to clinical practice.”

The issue has reached the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the government agency that oversees colleges and universities in the country. According to ABS-CBN News, the CHED’s legal team will investigate the matter.

CHED’s chairman Prospero de Vera told ABS-CBN News: “It’s speculative if I make comments based on news reports. I have to look at the document, I have to talk to who is complaining, but I have instructed the legal office of CHED to look into it.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has also gotten involved and will investigate the case. In a statement, its spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said that the PCC’s policy might be a possible violation of the Magna Carta of Women or Republic Act 9710. 

RA 9710 states that “No female student shall be expelled, dismissed, suspended, refused or denied of admission, or forced to take a leave of absence in any educational institution solely on grounds of pregnancy outside marriage during her school term.”

In a statement, the CHR said that it “is alarmed with the documents circulating in the internet showing Pines City Colleges policy of mandatory pregnancy testing not only as to possible MCW (Magna Carta of Women) violation but also of other women’s rights particularly on the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy.”

PCC’s policy understandably did not sit well with feminists. Among those who slammed the school was women’s party-list group Gabriela, which called the mandatory tests discriminatory against women.

Over on PCC’s Facebook account, Krista Rubio wrote that she continued working as a physician when she was pregnant. She asked PCC which subjects could endanger the life of the mother and the fetus and told them to present evidence.

Photo: Screenshot from PCC's Facebook account
Photo: Screenshot from PCC’s Facebook account

Eula Tetangco wrote that the tests were a blatant act of discrimination against female students.

Photo: Screenshot from PCC's Facebook account
Photo: Screenshot from PCC’s Facebook account

On Twitter, @wolverinabee asked sarcastically: “How about the person who got the student pregnant, how about their ‘social responsibility’? Will the school ask them to undergo a DNA test to verify [if they were the fathers of the child]? Do they ask their students to test [for pregnancy] every menstrual cycle? The one who thought of this was very smart.”

@maankubabom wrote that she felt violated just thinking about the implications of the policy.

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