In the Philippines, abortion is criminal and cannot be performed under any circumstances. The woman herself, her provider and her family can be imprisoned and fined. It’s not easy to talk about abortion either. Anti-choice groups have a strong presence on the islands, and use this to interrupt peaceful gathering. For example, the 7th APCRSHR in Manila was constant interrupted by groups campaigning outside the Philippines International Convention Center, the venue of the conference. The groups went as far as to seek a temporary restraining order against the conference. The motion was fortunately denied.

So advocates in the Philippines face an uphill task as they battle against unsafe abortion and fight for safe, humane and non-stigmatized abortion care. We would like to showcase the work of our Youth Champions from the Philippines here this month, and kick off our monthly column “Youth Project Of The Month”. This column will honor ASAP’s Youth Champions who work against the tide in several countries, contributing to our advocacy and research and helping us pave the road for women’s rights to safe abortion.

Youth Champion Lady Lisondra joined our team in 2012 after the Youth Advocacy Institute held in November that year. We know her for her dedication, her shrewdness and also for her sense of humor! Her fellow crusader, Sarah Jane Biton joined us in 2013 after the Second Youth Advocacy Institute. She  to use her creative talents, photography and filmmaking to join the battle against unsafe abortion.

Sarah and Lady are now producing a film for ASAP. Watch the trailer here:

The film deals with abortion stigma, particularly the stigma that women are forced to face at the hands of caregivers in hospitals where they seek care, very often post-abortion care. The film talks about the culture within which doctors and nurses receive their training and tries to dismantle the patriarchal and misogynist overtones in medical care.

At a recent panel in the 7th APCRSHR in Manila, we premiered this trailer to a roomful of enthusiastic activists. While the restrictive law along creates plenty of problems for women seeking access to safe abortion, the shame and the guilt that women are forced to live with when they approach caregivers after natural miscarriages or for post-abortion care shocked everyone present. Dr. SP Choong, ASAP Ex-Steering Committee Chair, who is a provider and a crusader for safe abortion, spoke about the need to make medical ethics a mandatory part of the medical curriculum so doctors can ask themselves if it is fair to thrust such shame and guilt on women who are already making extremely hard decisions under very delicate circumstances. A full review of the panel will be published shortly on this Blog.

Abortion stigma affects millions around the world and is worth a long, meaningful conversation. Sarah and Lady will begin blogging about their experience of making this film very shortly. The entire discussion will also be on social media with the hashtag #TMB, short for Tama Ba (Is It Justified?)

Watch this teaser to learn more about this new blog:

Join the blog in this discussions against guilt, shame and stigma. Don’t forget the hashtag — #TMB !!