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President of Philippines stands for reproductive rights

by Breonnah Colon - Copy Desk Chief
Wed, Feb 8th 2017 03:20 pm

There are certain things that just shouldn't be up to others to decide: who you can love, what your religion is or what you want to do with your body. However, for some odd reason, as "advanced" as we'd like to think we are, we as a society merely cannot comprehend the idea that people do not need a government or other entity to control what they want for themselves.

A New York Times article by Aurora Almendral titled "Duterte's Free Birth-Control Order Is Latest Skirmish With Catholic Church," explains the fight some women are facing in the Philippines to have control over their own reproductive rights.

See, some people seem to be under the impression that they have the right to tell others what they can or cannot do. Reality check: you don't and just to clarify, attempting to do so on a religious basis doesn't change anything about that fact.

These sorts of limitations are an issue because, as the article explains, not only are women in general forced to have children against their better judgement, but many women who are impacted by this issue live in poverty. Almendral explains that in the Philippines, "[approximately] six million women [are impacted by having their reproductive rights limited], two million of whom are poor."

In an attempt to help these women, current president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has signed an executive order which would enforce a law passed in 2012, giving women within the country access to contraception, as well as other reproductive health services and education. So, why is he only recently attempting to enforce a law that was passed over four years ago? The influence of the church, that's why.

Although the law originally was set to give the same assistance as the president's executive order would, the Roman Catholic Church worked to create petitions in the country's Supreme Court in order to combat the full effect of the law. The article explains, "The church and other contraception opponents filed petitions with the Supreme Court, which issued several rulings blocking parts of the law."

As a result of this millions of women, many of whom are impoverished, are forced to suffer because some members of the church, who have no connection to these women other than a possible religious belief are forcing women to change their lives- not that they're going to help after the child is born or anything.

As sad and unfair as this situation may be, it's in a whole different country, so why should we care, right? Other than the fact that these women are human and are forced to experience circumstances against their will, this situation actually isn't as far away as some of us would like to think. For one thing, let's think about why many women in the United States don't face circumstances as extreme as those in the Philippines (there are some who do though, let's make that clear), and that's the Roe v. Wade precedent which, according to plannedparenthoodaction.org, "recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman's right to make her own personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion without interference from politicians." Roe v. Wade was passed in the 70s because illegal abortions in the United States were causing women to die at extensive rates. The planned parenthood website states, "illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths."

Reproductive rights remain an issue not just in the Philippines, but also (surprise!) in the U.S, with anti-abortion groups rallying to make abortion once again illegal, not to mention our own president who had been quoted as saying women who have abortions should face some sort of punishment during the 2016 presidential campaign. A New York Times article titled, "Donald Trump, Abortion Foe, Eyes 'Punishment' for Women, Then Recants" speaks on a statement Trump made during his run in the 2016 presidential election where he stated, "You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places." He went on to state, "But you have to ban it."

He later took back the statement, but regardless, we should remember those words. President Trump has held some controversial stances and as we have seen with his executive orders he fully intends to carry out his promises. So maybe what's happening in the Philippines isn't so far off after all.

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