Context: In the Philippines, abortion is legally restricted. Nevertheless, many women obtain abortions--often in unsafe conditions--to avoid unplanned births. In 1994, the estimated abortion rate was 25 per 1,000 women per year; no further research on abortion incidence has been conducted in the Philippines.
Methods: Data from 1,658 hospitals were used to estimate abortion incidence in 2000 and to assess trends between 1994 and 2000, nationally and by region. An indirect estimation methodology was used to calculate the total number of women hospitalized for complications of induced abortion in 2000 (averaged data for 1999-2001), the total number of women having abortions and the rate of induced abortion.
Results: In 2000, an estimated 78,900 women were hospitalized for postabortion care, 473,400 women had abortions and the abortion rate was 27 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 per year. The national abortion rate changed little between 1994 and 2000; however, large increases occurred in metropolitan Manila (from 41 to 52) and Visayas (from 11 to 17). The proportions of unplanned births and unintended pregnancies increased substantially in Manila, and the use of traditional contraceptive methods increased in Manila and Visayas.
Conclusion: The increase in the level of induced abortion seen in some areas may reflect the difficulties women experience in obtaining modern contraceptives as a result of social and political constraints that affect health care provision. Policies and programs regarding both postabortion care and contraceptive services need improvement.