Safe abortion advocates ask for empathy in
Sept. 28 campaign
Manila, Sept. 28, 2016–“If this happened to you, what would you do?” This is the question asked by advocates from the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) as they celebrate the Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion.
“When people are prejudiced against those who have abortions,” explains Atty. Claire Padilla, PINSAN spokesperson, “it is usually because they haven’t put themselves in the shoes of these women. Empathy and sympathy–these are what Sept. 28 is all about.”
The Sept. 28 Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion aims to end abortion stigma and gender stereotypes that perpetuate the suffering of women from all kinds of backgrounds. This diversity is highlighted by this year’s theme, “Step Into Our Shoes.”
“People like to stereotype the kind of woman who has an abortion,” says Padilla. “But abortion experiences are as diverse as the shoes you see in the campaign. We want people to start sympathizing by stepping into them and hearing the stories of their owners.” Stories from all over the world together with photos of storytellers have been sent to the campaign through social media with the hashtag #StepIntoOurShoes.
In the lobby of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, PINSAN installed an art display titled, “Pinagdaanan.” Footprints inscribed with poetry create a path to the main display where images of different shoes represent the diverse experiences of women in the Philippines, where abortion is not legal under any circumstances. This restriction has resulted in an estimated 3 deaths due to abortion complications every day.
PINSAN facilitated a short program at the art installation. Several women read abortion stories sent through letters to the campaign, after which a video production on the realities of abortion in the country was shown. “These stories are moving,” says Padilla. “But what makes them really painful is the fact that these women can’t be here to share their stories themselves because of the stigma surrounding abortion. We hope that today moves the situation from one of stigma to one of sympathy.”
After the program, PINSAN headed to Quiapo Church to do a flash mobilization. In front of the church, where anti-abortion posters were plastered on the walls, several advocates held up placards that asked, “Nasaan ang mercy and compassion kung hindi legal and abortion?” (Where is mercy and compassion if abortion is not legal?)
The Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) is a network of indivuals 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.
Atty. Claire Padilla