UPR Member States to ask the Philippines on access to safe abortion

Posted on May 8, 2017


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Manila, May 8, 2017 – As the Philippine government presents before the United Nation Human Rights Council’s (UN HRC) during its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland, questions will be raised by UN member states and observers on the government’s compliance with its past commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including on the issue of abortion.

This came as a result of women’s rights groups and SRHR advocates’ active engagement leading up to the UPR. The Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) led by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), Engenderights and Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) hosted a briefing held in Manila on March with various embassies to discuss the status of abortion and post-abortion care services in the Philippines and how it impacts women’s health and human rights. The local presentation was followed by another presentation in Geneva with various Missions in April also of this year.

PINSAN members also submitted a joint report to the 27th Session of the UPR Working Group of the UN HRC on the Philippine governments’ commitment and obligations in the area of women’s reproductive and sexual health, and requested member states to make the following recommendations:

  1. To ensure and facilitate women’s and girls’ access to the full range of contraceptive information and services including modern contraceptives and emergency contraceptives, by fully implementing the RH Law and adequately investing in reproductive health programs, in addition to immediately reviewing and revoking all discriminatory laws and policies that contravene the Magna Carta of Women and RH Law and the Government’s human rights obligations.
  2. To ensure and facilitate women’s and girls’ access to humane, nonjudgmental and quality post-abortion care as guaranteed under the RH Law, Magna Carta of Women and Prevention and Management of Abortion and its Complications (PMAC) policy.
  3. To take immediate steps to review the criminal abortion ban, decriminalize abortion on all grounds and legalize it in cases where a pregnant woman’s or girl’s life or physical or mental health is in danger, where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, and in cases of fetal impairment.
  4. To provide redress for human rights violations concerning women’s and girls’ reproductive health by establishing and enforcing effective accountability mechanisms that provide timely and appropriate remedies and to remove all barriers that impede their access to justice.

As a result of PINSAN engagements on the UPR Process, the governments of The Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium and Sweden will raise the issue of reproductive rights. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden also submitted their question in advance on the issue of abortion. The UN HRC released the following questions for the Philippines that have been submitted in advance by above-mentioned UN member states:


 Is the Government of the Philippines taking steps to repeal all legislation criminalizing abortion, including healthcare providers performing such services, and take measures to allow legal and safe abortions at a minimum in cases of rape or incest, where the life or health of the women and girls is at risk, or where the fetus is not viable?


 Have there been efforts to harmonize national legislation to international maternal health standards? What are the national strategies to guarantee full access to reproductive health?


What steps are being taken by the government of the Philippines to ensure the full implementation of laws guaranteeing women’s and minor’s access to the full range of reproductive health information and services as well as to decriminalize abortion on all grounds and legalise abortion in cases of rape, incest, threats to the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, or fetal impairment?


During the last Universal Periodic Review, the Philippines noted recommendations to amend the abortion law to allow for safe abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the health or life of the pregnant woman is at risk. In November 2016, the Philippine Commission on Human Rights made a recommendation for Congress to review the abortion ban and to consider the recommendations of CEDAW to decriminalize abortion. What steps does the Government of the Philippines intend to take in response to these recommendations?

 The rate of teenage pregnancies is on the rise in the Philippines. The Committee on the Rights of the Child in General comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence (CRC/C/GC/20) stated: “There should be no barriers to commodities, information and counselling on sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as requirements for third-party consent or authorization”. Taking this into consideration, has the Government of the Philippines any plans to propose that the RPRH law is amended to allow access of minors to modern methods of family planning without parental consent?

Please links below to download PINSAN’s joint report and other relevant documents regarding the UPR submission HERE





The Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to working towards achieving full realization of women and girls’ human rights – including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. In line with this, they strive toward the demystification, destigmatization, and decriminalization of abortion in the Philippines.

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