Abortion is illegal in the Philippines as per the Revised Penal Code of 1930, unless it is necessary to save the life of the woman.
The Constitution of 1987, provides that the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child from conception. This reinforces the provision contained in a Presidential Decree of 1975, establishing the Child and Youth Welfare Code which stipulates that a child has the dignity and worth of a human being from the moment of conception - and has the right to be born as well.
In Febrary 2005 a committee of the Filipino Congress approved a bill on population control that would fine and sentence violators to prison terms. The goal of the policy is to impose controls on population growth.
The programme that the bill would set up is called Lingtas Buntis and involves a mass information campaign on fertility control methods and government financial aid to couples who decide to stop at two children.
Lingtas Buntis targets two million men, women, and couples of reproductive age, adolescents 15 to 19 years old, the poor and indigenous communities. Health workers will interview couples, map and make a master list of families after house-to-house, door-to-door, and person-to-person â€œsurveysâ€ on the fertility control methods they used.
The measure imposes fines and imprisonment for parents, spouses, and health professionals who impede "sexual and reproductive rights" [i.e. a euphemism for contraception and abortion].
The Philippines is overwhelmingly Catholic and thus there is strong religious and cultural opposition to widening the grounds for abortion.
Mgr Fernando Capalla, Archbishop of Davao appealed to Christian leaders and lawmakers to condemn the 'two-child policy' bill, saying "A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit you to write or support measures which contradict the basic rights of families".