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POV Philippines by Jon Joaquin

Speaking of abortion…

by Jon Joaquin

Abortion is still illegal in the Philippines, and while some groups and individuals in the past have tried to take steps towards its legalization, one is still hard-pressed to find anyone who will speak up for it openly. No politician has openly supported its legalization since it can mean losing support from his or her political base. Most Filipinos believe abortion constitutes murder, and the 1987 Constitution affirms this in Article II, Section 12:

“The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

It is argued that this means abortion can be performed to save the life of the mother, but this has not been taken to the Supreme Court yet — showing how unwilling society is to consider even the thought of aborting a child.

And yet according to estimates, more than half a million abortions are done in the Philippines every year — usually under unsafe conditions. About 1,000 Filipino women die from complications, which contributes to the nation’s high maternal mortality rate (data from guttmacher.org).

The topic of abortion, in fact, is taboo in the Philippines, and while I wanted to write about it in the context of human rights in the country (you’ll understand towards the end of this article), I didn’t have the reason to do it. But then the topic entered the national conversation in recent weeks, at least on social media (the traditional media seemed oblivious to it). I won’t repeat what the buzz is all about (you can just google it), but what I found interesting was the universal condemnation of abortion from Filipinos.

Let me start with a call made late last year to boycott Yellow Cab Pizza over a photo showing some crew members doing the “Duterte fist.” In a petition at change.org, the group said the restaurant, through its crew, was endorsing President Rodrigo Duterte and his policies, “including his very vocal denouncement of human rights as evidenced in his endorsement of murder in the name of his so-called War on Drugs.”

Now people are free to boycott anything and anyone they want, and to call on others to do the same. But they have to be prepared for the often inevitable problem of finding out that they are also endorsing or patronizing someone or something that’s equally deplorable, if not even more so.

For example, I am willing to bet that while all of those who want to boycott Yellow Cab are against alleged state-sponsored extrajudicial killings (EJKs), none of them support abortion. Most Filipinos, after all, believe that life begins at conception, and any measure that even remotely resembles the legalization of abortion will never get passed as it is seen as murder.

But most of the Yellow Cab boycotters are probably unaware that many of the US-based companies they patronize are directly involved in abortion through their financial contribution to Planned Parenthood, the largest single provider of abortions in the United States.

So if those who want to boycott Yellow Cab are to be consistent, they should also boycott companies that support abortion. That means not wearing Nike shoes, not drinking Pepsi, not using Microsoft Windows, not drinking Starbucks coffee, and so on and so forth. Unless, of course, they are willing to say that a drug pusher has more right to live than an unborn child.

This is why I don’t respond to a call to boycott something. It forces me to consider all the other persons/things I’m patronizing/supporting, and that would ultimately lead to paralysis because that’s all I’d be doing day in and day out. I just tell myself that all persons, all companies, all organizations have reasons for doing what they’re doing, and I go on with my life.

So before we go off on a crusade to shut down certain companies, we had better look at those we support first. We may be shocked at what they are backing.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the original author, and do not necessarily represent those of the Pilipino Express publishers.

Jon Joaquin is the Chief Editor of www.mindanation.com. E-mail Jon at jonjoaquin@gmail.com

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