An estimated 538 babies are born to Filipino teenage mothers every single day. With more than 1 in 20 girls (5,99%) affected, the Philippines has the second highest rate of teen mothers in Southeast Asia. In 2019 the government declared teenage pregnancy as a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse. Because of a strict community lockdown medical facilities were hard to reach and access to birth control has been severely reduced. This has made particularly youngsters more vulnerable to unsafe sex. A baby boom is expected in 2021, with an estimated 751.000 babies born from unplanned and teenage pregnancies. This is alarming, not only for the lives of the teenage mothers and their babies, but also for the already overwhelmed healthcare system which won’t be able to accommodate the high number of newborns and their mothers.
In the Philippines, the only Christian nation in Asia, abortion is illegal as much as premarital sex is a sin. Pressure from the catholic corner leads to a lack of access to birth control and inadequate sex education. As a result, some teenagers do not know that pregnancy results from sex and a variety of myths circulate amongst youngsters, for example that one should jump up and down after intercourse in order to avoid pregnancy.
Will 2021 become a year with even more high risk pregnancies, discontinuation of studies, malnourished babies, depression, dangerous illegal abortion practices,… all consequences of teenage pregnancies?