IN THE fight against abortion, firmness and compassion are complementary weapons. Lack of compassion in fact may drive people to abortion.

While unmarried pregnant students are often discouraged to study in school because of social ostracism, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s Senate Bill (SB) 2194, or the Pregnant Student Services Act, says that discrimination only gives pregnant teens more reasons to abort, aside from prejudicing their right to education.

“Should the pregnant student quit school, she will face even more difficult challenges: rearing a child by herself and finding a decent job. Fear of these consequences is the primary reason for resorting to abortion,” Santiago said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Santiago proposes a special program that would extend help to unwed pregnant and parenting students. With SB 2194, institutions of higher learning are encouraged to admit unmarried pregnant students and establish a student-service office for pregnant students.

Institute of Religion assistant director Ana Maria Ocampo said admission of pregnant but unmarried students in the academe would not necessarily compromise the University’s stand on premarital sex.

“I personally don’t see any conflict if the University will admit unmarried pregnant students,” said Ocampo, a Theology teacher who teaches Marriage and Family Life.

“In fact, the University, being the students’ second home, must extend a compassionate hand to them during these trying times, especially if education is their only chance to have a better life.”

The program, according to Ocampo, must be guided by “prudence, wisdom and proper discernment.” A special committee must be formed to define limits and conditions to admission, she added.

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Ocampo also said that the University must not wait until the bill gets approved before creating the committee. Referred last Jan. 23, SB 2194 still has to be heard at the Senate Committees on Education, Arts and Culture, on Youth, Women and Family Relations, and on Finance.

Santiago also filed in the same committees SB 1661, otherwise known as the Women and Children’s Resources Act, which seeks to give women alternatives to abortion.

SB 1661 advances financial support to organizations that provide information and support services such as adoption or parenting alternatives to pregnant women. It will also establish a national program for pro-life services.

“Women, when confronted with unplanned or crisis pregnancy, are often left with the impression that abortion is the only choice they have in dealing with their difficult circumstances,” Santiago said. “This is due to the lack of accurate information, supportive counseling and other assistance regarding parenting alternatives to abortion.”

Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P., a Fundamental Moral Theology professor, said that SB 1661 must be part of a bigger program that does not encourage the use of contraceptives to address teenage pregnancy.

“I hope this bill would be approved,” Tiong told the Varsitarian. He added he is happy that SB 1661 does not grant funds to entities that “provide, refer or advocate the use of contraceptive services, drugs or devices.”

Meanwhile, HB 5327, or the Pregnancy Care Centers Act, by Rep. Eduardo Zialcita (Paranaque), seeks to address the problem of costly child delivery in hospitals and the scarcity of public health-care centers nationwide.

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“This lack of health care centers, especially those that render services for pregnancy, is a pressing problem in our country,” Zialcita told the Varsitarian.

With the scarcity of lying-in health care centers, Zialcita filed the bill to mandate the Department of Health to give grants as well as offer tax discounts to private and non-profit agencies offering health-care services to pregnant women.

“These centers must teach abstinence to unmarried individuals and natural family planning methods to married couples?all free of charge,” Zialcita said.

But even before the bill has been filed, the UST Health Service already provides health services for pregnant students.

“The University has an obstetrician in the Health Service,” said Dr. William Olalia, director of the Health Service. “We have long been giving this service to students who get pregnant,” K.P. Bayos, M. L. C. Celis, C. G. Fallorina, and R. S. Mejia

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