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This has come about as more knowledge is being provided to mothers about health education and family planning. Health workers are starting to work harder at educating women about their health and safety, and intervening more often to protect women's health and prevent dangerous forms of contraception including self-induced abortion (Olenick, 2000). Women living in rural areas still generally have more children and give birth to more live babies than women living in urban areas, with women with little or no education having higher than average total fertility rates (Olenick, 2000).
During the modern era many women living in the Philippines report on average they desire 3.2 children, with younger women preferring even smaller families when compared with older women (Olenick, 2000). Women who had children and were surveyed often reported they wanted no more children with more than half of women with two children reporting they wanted to prevent further pregnancies (Olenick, 2000). Among the modern women surveyed most engaged in family planning used female sterilization or the pill as the most common methods of prevention, though 4% of women still relied on no method of pregnancy prevention (Olenick, 2000). Urban women were more likely to adopt modern practices than those living in rural areas, and educated women were likely to have fewer children than non-educated women. Family planning messages targeting women are more prevalent with more than 80% of educated women having exposure to ads for family planning and roughly 16% of uneducated women experiencing the same exposure (Olenick, 2000, p. 94).
Perceptions of Male-Female Responsibilities
Baretto (1974) reveals in his study more than sixty percent of survey respondents that were women generally approved of family planning practices including use of contraception. Urban living women demonstrated a higher acceptance rate of prevention methods than rural living women (Baretto, 1974).The study also noted a significant correlation between education and a woman's preferences about family planning. Objections to family planning by women included "disapproval of husband" (Baretto, 1974: 296). Other reasons included religious or personal objectives. Despite this much of the information collected for this study suggests that women largely are responsible for the health choices they make, and while gender inequities do exist and male opinions seems to weigh most heavily, most women pursued abortions or other methods of contraception despite public policy or tradition (Baretto, 1974; Lakshminarayanan, 2003).
In a later study by Laidlaw & Stockwell (1980) compiling evidence suggested not much effort from governments could be discerned that would facilitate planned parenting. Much of government law came from the male perspective, as few women hold public office in places that would influence or govern policy toward public policy and family planning. During the time of their study government perceptions of fertility levels as being too low was actually higher than perceptions of fertility levels being too high in Southeast Asia including the Philippines. In addition the average commitment to reduce or increase fertility measures or actions to support contraceptive services were almost equal, suggesting the government was not committed as women were toward limiting family size. Part of this is due to lack of perception that rapid population growth in this area is problematic (Laidlaw & Stockwell, 1980; Flavier & Chen, 1980).
Flavier & Chen in the early 1980s noted that much of the responsibility for family planning fell on the shoulders of women in the Philippines, who often sought illegal abortions as an acceptable method of birth control. A survey of women conducted over a two-year period between 1967 and 1969 suggested that 30% of women had an abortion at least once during their lifetime (p. 65). Other studies suggested up to 2,000 abortions were performed every year among Filipino women, though attitudes toward abortion in rural areas where nearly 80% of the Filipino population lived had not been adequately examined. As such Flavier & Chen (1980) engaged a study of five villages in the Cavite Province in the Philippines, where population levels existed at roughly 5,000 people. Ethnographic information was collected as were demographics including participants name, addresses, fertility history and attitudes and knowledge of fertility planning and abortion. This study suggested that while historically abortion was utilized by women as a primary means of fertility control, a trend toward more modern methods including D&C, tablets or injections were being investigated by women, who often took on the role of "provider" for the family (Flavier & Chen, 1980). The study also suggested the more religious a woman was; the less likely she was to engage in contraceptive methods or education. Another study conducted by Gallen (1982) suggested roughly 75% of women in married relationships practiced abortion at least once as a means of contraception or family planning. Most of the women in this study had some education with up to 40% receiving a collegiate level education. The majority of clients reporting their acceptance of abortion were those aged in "their late 20s" who already had three children, many of whom were Roman Catholic (Gallen, 1982:36).
A study by the World Health Organization in the same year suggested that in the Philippines women largely made choices about fertility on their own, only later consulting with their husband about reproductive use. The only exception to the rule was in cases where an IUD was used as a method of family planning, in which case a joint decision was typically accepted as standard (Gallen, 1982). Men seem however, for much of Philippine history, unequal partners, bearing little of the responsibility for family planning.
Gallen's 1982 observations of fertility planning, which confirmed high rates of abortion among women in their late 20s, suggested that over 90% of practitioners offering such services were women, whose age varied between 26 and 90 years of age (p. 37). Many supported their profession with an overwhelming majority claiming they were doing it not for money, but because "women requested their assistance" or they had a strong desire to help women in a safe way (Gallen, 1982: 37). Gallen's observations suggested roughly 1/2 of study participants consulted with their husbands or male partners to find a practitioner to help them get an abortion. While many women reported their reasons for abortion included economic difficulties or satisfaction with their current family size, a small proportion of single women reported shame or fear as reasons for termination a pregnancy (Gallen, 1982).
Ginsburg & Rapp (1991) reported that reproduction and family planning prior to the 1990s were largely considered a "woman's topic" with few anthropologists focusing on cross-cultural surveys, beliefs and norms surrounding reproductive behaviors (p.311). They note relatively little anthropological research to this time had been dedicated to fathers or the role of fathering in reproduction and child-rearing, much less family planning (p. 328). Cultural attitudes toward men's fertility and nurturance "or to the social practices and consequences of male care giving" were unobserved by most (Ginsburg & Rapp, 1991, p. 328).
Studies conducted by Tadiar & Robinson (1996) show that women and health providers working in the Philippines actively welcome options to abortion including emergency contraception and family planning, and few would likely comply with laws limiting their access to such protections (p. 77). One obstacle to proper health care for women in the Philippines is lack of money, another reason many women prefer family planning choices that prevent pregnancy. Some surveys suggest Filipino women especially are more likely to separate their views of pregnancy prevention and family planning from their religious views, which may review such measures as illegal or unnecessary (Tadiar & Robinson, 1996, p. 29). At the time of their study a large body of evidence suggested Filipino women were eager to discover safer methods of family planning and pregnancy termination. Tadiar & Robinson noted from a cultural perspective, for Filipino women most have a predisposition that would "incline women to use emergency contraception" since they do not interpret pregnancy in the earliest weeks as life (p. 79). Rather, in the first weeks following a missed period a woman may be engaged in the process of becoming rather than actually being pregnant, suggesting use of emergency contraception would be welcome by women and embraced in a positive life (Tadiar & Robinson, 1996).
Among the later studies conducted including those conducted by Casterline, Perez & Biddlecome, (1997) report that when women and their husbands were asked separately about fertility preferences, evidence suggests husbands are more likely to support larger family and "pronatalist" views than women, especially among families where no contraception use is noted. Roughly one half of a small sample of women surveyed reported that while they did not want any more children, they acknowledged they were married to men that did want to have more children, sooner rather than later. The authors conclude that in recent years despite increasingly educational opportunity and availability of contraception, many women do not use contraception because their husbands contribute to an unmet need for adequate…[continue]
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