I came across a tweet that rejects the findings of a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology entitled “Relationship between ultrasound viewing and abortion.”
The netizen claims that, contrary to the study,
“78% of women considering abortion choose life after seeing an ultrasound of their babies.” (NIFLA 2015).
The study published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology dated January 2014, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp. 81-87, was authored by.
- Mary Gatter, MD,
- Katrina Kimpost, Ph.D.,
- Diana Foster, Ph.D.,
- Tracy Weitz, Ph.D.,
- and Ushma Upadhyay, Ph.D.,
MPH, came up with a finding that 42% of the 15,575 patients who consulted an abortion. Clinic viewed the pre-procedure ultrasound scan of their babies and that 98% of the 42% proceeded with the abortion.
While 99% who did not view the ultrasound scan of their babies went through with the abortion.
Only 7% of those who viewed their pre-procedure ultrasound decided against pushing through with the abortion.
Being a lawyer, I replied to the tweet rejecting the findings of the study by saying that “life imprisonment or the death penalty is the best deterrent for abortion.”
I received a deluge of violent reactions from my tweet that I had to re-think the best options to deal with abortion.
The majority, if not all of those who replied to my tweet were against penalizing the pregnant woman and instead wanted the man to go to jail for the crime of abortion, whether he caused or committed the abortion or not.
Abortion is a crime punished under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. The penalty imposed varies, depending on the circumstances and the person who committed and the underlying reason for its commission.
For instance, if the abortion is committed by the pregnant woman herself the penalty if 6 years.
Much lower than the 12 to 20 years if committed by a man using violence,
and 6 to 12 years if there was no violence.
If the woman consented to the abortion committed by the man,
the penalty for the man is 6 months to 6 years.
If the abortion is committed by the pregnant woman for the purpose of concealing her dishonor or preserving her reputation in the community. The penalty imposed by the law is the lowest at 4 years.
But if it were the parents who committed the abortion to protect the honor of their child,
the penalty is 6 years.
Interestingly, the man who impregnated the woman but had no hand or participation whatsoever in the commission of the abortion,
which was done solely by the pregnant woman or her parents, is free and shall not be penalized. This is what makes people mad.
The general sentiment in the twitter universe is that the man who impregnated the woman is the more guilty, and therefore should be the one to suffer for the crime of abortion, not the pregnant woman.
The suggested penalties on twitter range from mandatory vasectomy to life imprisonment.
I would tend to agree to this proposition because after all, it is a principle in criminal law that a person is liable for the direct and natural consequence of his felonious act. Impregnating a woman without providing for her and her unborn economic future is an economic felony, in the same vein that a father who does not give financial support to his children is guilty of economic harassment.
The penalties for abortion under the revised penal Code on abortion had to be reviewed and revised.
First, a woman who commits abortion whether to conceal her dishonor or due to economic reasons should be treated as a victim, not an offender.
Instead of sending her to jail, she should be given proper counseling on prenatal care.
Concealing dishonor is no longer a primary reason for pregnant women to terminate their pregnancy.
The lack of economic and financial resources to provide prenatal care, the high cost of delivery and medical care for both mother and child, the high cost of education and basic needs, are among the main reasons for abortion.
A mother who cannot guarantee the future of the child, because the man who fathered is not willing to answer for it would rather make the ultimate sacrifice of terminating her pregnancy.
Second, the father of the child should be held criminally liable for abortion.
If he had no participation in the abortion, he should be jailed for 12 years.
And if directly caused the abortion through violence or other means he should suffer the penalty of 20 years to life imprisonment.
Others may claim that a vindictive woman may use the stiff penalties imposed on the man to get back at him or force his hand in marriage. This is possible, but very unlikely because all it takes is a loaded shotgun to compel a guy to marry a woman, which gave rise to the phrase “shotgun marriage.” Women in the past need not terminate their pregnancy in order to force a guy to marry them as an enraged father with a loaded shotgun was enough.
Third, the root cause of abortion is still poverty. It always goes back to economic reasons.
Viewing an ultrasound scan of a fetus is not a deterrent for abortion,
and neither is the possibility of going to jail for a long time.
Children as young as 13 years old, as soon as they experience their first menstrual period, get pregnant. This only happens in depressed communities, not among high or middle-income families.
The children of these families go to an exclusive Catholic girl’s school. While the female children of low-income families hang around with males three times older than them. Because they do not have money to enroll in a public school.
These girls have never seen an ultrasound machine. Therefore, their decision to terminate their pregnancy cannot be influenced by viewing the scan.
That is the reality of abortion and infanticide in a poor, developing country like the Philippines.