EIGHTEEN-year-old Amalia got pregnant. Studying in a Catholic school, her parents expected her to graduate with honors and to shun suitors. On the verge of emotional breakdown, she knew that the “easy way” out of her sorry state might not be the most reasonable option—abortion.

Amalia is just one of the few Thomasian clients of Ellen Sanchez, resident counselor of Pro-Life Philippines who spent eight years dealing with cases of women troubled with their pregnancies. Cultural and school discrimination against pregnant mothers have become the main causes of abortion.

Lacking social and academic support, women unready to give birth have become vulnerable to abortion.

“Our psychological and health (counseling) programs seek to educate women about the value of life and the consequences of choosing abortion,” Sanchez told the Varsitarian. “Abortion does not end the problem. It all the more opens a host of problems like future miscarriages, sterility, vulnerability to breast and uterine cancer, and post-abortion syndrome with symptoms such as nightmares, suicidal tendencies and intense misery.”

In 2006, the Pregnancy Counseling Services case study report of Pro-Life’s six satellite offices in the country revealed that most women who resort to abortion are psychologically flagged by domestic rejection, mostly from their parents, which accounted for 15.88 per cent of 293 reported cases.

Unwanted pregnancy has become problematic for women aged 15-20, who would like to pursue their studies but are cowed in the process by social prejudice and the “curse” of untimely parenthood.

“It’s either they are afraid to let other people know their state because of the resultant humiliation that awaits them or they don’t want to disappoint their parents,” Sanchez said.

Lady in my pocket

Non-discrimination of unwed mothers in schools is one of the provisions being pushed by pro-lifers in the magna carta of students (national and campus-based) to give these women their due right to education and livelihood.

“Most people would think that early pregnancy is just a coagulation of blood and flesh before the two-month stage, when abortion is thought as an escape path from the call of responsibility,” Sanchez said. “But the child even before the second month of conception is already human. A new-born individual from the moment of conception.”

According to Sanchez, women aged 21-30 who opt to work abroad sometimes resort to abortion as a convenient way of avoiding the demands of unwanted parenthood.

On the other hand, some commit abortion due to marital problems arising from bigamous relationships; other couples simply decline parental accountability.

“These people are basically clueless of what they are doing,” she said. “Our duty as advocates of life is to impress upon them the hidden realities of what obtains in their womb.”

Pro-Life provides pregnant women ultrasound and other medical services to help them recognize the new life in their womb. Couples are extended natural family planning instruction and marriage counseling.

Other forms of assistance include temporary maternity shelter, medical assistance, and adoption services. Maternity homes have been tapped to help women fight off the adversities of rearing a child.

“Pregnancy help centers assist single parents in re-establishing their lives together with their children through parenting classes and support groups,” Sanchez said. “We also organize livelihood seminars to help them find good means of living as soon as they leave the maternity centers.”

Parliamentary shift must conform to culture

In the case of sexually abused women, counseling is focused on helping the victim recover from the traumatic experience she underwent in the hands of her aggressor. Despite the painful ordeal, the victim, together with her parents or guardians, is encouraged to continue her pregnancy and to take care of the child.

However, adoption remains an option for some parents who are in financial and emotional constraints.

“As an alternative to abortion, we support parents who are economically challenged but willing to give their children a better life,” she said. “For this matter, we find prospective foster parents who are willing to legally adopt and support the child with his/her future needs.”

Mode of instruction

Telephone counseling has become the organization’s primary mode of instruction compared to face-to-face encounters.

“Most of our counselees seek our advice through phone-in inquiries for personal reasons,” Sanchez said. “While others may have heeded our advice, still, there are some who disregard everything we’ve told them and continue with the abortion of their babies.”

Although majority of those who take counseling sessions with Pro-Life are women, the study bared a 13.22 per cent inquiry rating among men, proof that males are also sensitive to the difficulties of their female partners.

“Men who come to us are being sorry after pressuring their partners to commit abortion,” Sanchez said. “Instead of abandoning their spouses or girlfriends, we advise them to take full responsibility of their actions, repent from their mistakes, and continue loving their partners unconditionally.”

Information dissemination about the ill-effects of abortion through visual media registered an estimated 40.80 per cent turnout from 2,333 counselees who learned the organization’s counseling program via television advertisements.

Young adults miss out on life's meaning

Taking the cue from Pro-Life’s humane advocacies, Sanchez stressed that abstinence is the best way to check unwanted pregnancies

“Pre-marital sex is the root of unwanted pregnancies which often leads to abortion,” Sanchez said. “We should always keep in mind that contraceptives are not 100 per cent effective which might only give us false hopes in the long run.”

“Human sexuality is not a plaything. Love, as the ultimate bond that fosters the relationship between a man and a woman, entails responsibility and commitment to one another.” A. A. G. Divinagracia


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