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International Law

Philippines Abortions: Illegal, Yet Done

Posted Sep 5, 2007 10:29 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Abortions are illegal in the Philippines, but that doesn't prevent women from having an estimated 500,000 annually. Some 80,000 reportedly are treated in hospitals each year for complications from induced abortions, and another 800 die.

Methods commonly used include a "massage" by a midwife or ingesting a concoction of drugs, reports Reuters. Only one in four women has a surgical abortion, because of the cost. One reason why abortion is needed is because birth control isn't available, especially to women of limited means; the country's Catholic president encourages so-called natural methods, and an American government agency called USAID, which traditionally has provided contraceptives, is phasing them out.

Many women have abortions because they can't afford to have another child, and the country, too, is having a difficult time providing for all of its residents. Currently, there are an estimated 89 million people living in the Philippines, and the country's population is expected to shoot up to 142 million by 2040. Even today, Reuters writes, "the rapid arrival of new mouths to feed is already straining the country's creaking infrastructure and choking efforts to cut poverty."

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