Decriminalize and Allow Abortion in Certain Cases, Philippines Told by Advocates at the UN

(Geneva) – The Philippines should allow abortion in certain cases, said a spokesperson of the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (Pinsan) at the UN. Ana Maria “Princess” Nemenzo, who also spoke on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), and PINSAN, and is currently the national coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines, delivered this message during the Philippine UPR Report Consideration at the 25th Meeting of the 36th Regular Session Human Rights Council on September 22, 2017:

“We urge the Philippines to end the continued criminalization of abortion,” said Nemenzo. “We are concerned that a law was enacted last month increasing the fine a hundredfold for pharmacists who dispense abortifacients without prescription. We urge the Philippines to take immediate steps to address the increasing number of abortions, complications, injuries, and maternal deaths resulting from unsafe abortions. Most recent estimates show that approximately 610,000 abortions are performed in the Philippines with 100,000 women and girls suffering complications and 1,000 women and girls dying in a year.

“We reiterate the recommendations expressed by different UN treaty monitoring bodies to ensure access of women and girls to quality reproductive health services. In particular, we urge the Philippines to implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women based on a finding of grave and systematic human rights violations in a special inquiry conducted in 2012. We likewise urge the Philippines to implement the recommendations of its national Commission on Human Rights on improving access to reproductive health and rights resulting from a national inquiry in 2016,” said Nemenzo. The video of the statement can be found online

The Netherlands made recommendations which echoed Nemenzo’s above statement, urging the Philippines to “take immediate steps to permit abortion in cases where a woman’s or a girl’s life or physical or mental health is in danger, where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and in cases of fetal impairment, with a view to decriminalizing abortion in the near future.”

The Philippine Government received 257 recommendations, of which 103 are supported and 154 noted during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Session 27 of the UN Human Rights Council. UPR key recommendations’ including allowing abortion even in limited circumstances has been rejected by the Philippines.

To emphasize these calls further, PINSAN and WGNRR are joining the September 28 Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. With the theme #IResistWePersist, the day of action highlights the many ways advocates are resisting and persisting against restrictions and rollbacks on access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including safe and legal abortion.

PINSAN and WGNRR will hold an afternoon of conversation with women and human rights groups, health providers, educators, and youth entitled Defying Odds: Addressing Challenges on Post Abortion Care on September 28 (1-4 pm) in Quezon City.


The Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to working towards achieving full realization of women and girls’ human rights – including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. In line with this, they strive toward the demystification, destigmatization, and decriminalization of abortion in the Philippines.

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