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CHR Says College That Required Pregnancy Test May Be Violating Rights of Its Female StudentsThe Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines says it is already investigating the viral memo.by Rachel Perez .
The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) says it is alarmed by a memo of a Baguio-based college that required its Dentristy, Nursing and Pharmacy female students to undergo a pregnancy test, adding it could be in violation of the Magna Carta of Women act "but also of other women’s rights particularly on the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy."
The statementposted on CHR's official Facebook page read,"Dismissal on the basis of pregnancy is clearly prohibited under the Magna Carta of Women (MCW). The prohibition against dismissing students on the basis of pregnancy does not distinguish between public or private educational institutions."
CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacquline de Guia stressed in the statement: "Women and girls should not be denied exercise and full enjoyment of basic rights, they should not suffer negative consequences in educational and workspaces, simply because they are pregnant."
The CHR's Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) office is already investigating the case to verify the existence of the memo and its true intentions.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
The memo, dated October 25, 2018, circulating on social media came from the Pines City Colleges (PCC) Medical Clinic and was addressed to all deans and department heads of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy.
"In our school's pursuit of education and social responsibility, the medical clinic will be conducting a mandatory pregnancy test on all female students in your colleges," the memo read. "Students should process to the clinic on their scheduled dates."
The testing schedule in the memo was set for today, November 7 until November 9, 2018 and was to be facilitated by two registered medical technologists from an accredited laboratory. The female students would shoulder the cost of the pregnancy test, Php150, which will be included in their school fees.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Internationally acclaimed women’s rights advocate Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) shared on Twitter screenshots of PCC's student manual, particularly the pages about "Policies on Pregnancy."
"If the student is found to be pregnant, she must not enroll in certain subjects or drop from the same if she's already enrolled. If pregnancy got terminated, she must prove that she did not commit abortion and submit to further testing by the school," Angsioco tweeted.
Gabriela Women's Party condemned PCC's policy on pregnant students, citing similar concerns from the CHR — that the memo's directive is discriminatory against women and a violation of the MCW, creates "undue pressure" and puts the "unreasonable blame" on pregnant female students.
"[It] perpetuates an old view and stigma that pregnancy is socially unacceptable and against the norm," party-list Representatives Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas said in a statement posted on the party list's official Facebook page.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
PCC issued a statement to address the uproar its memo received. The academic institution stayed firm and abides by its policy. It said that only "female students who are enrolling in any subject that would endanger both mother and child" are required to take the pregnancy test.
"It is a policy agreed to by our students upon enrollment in this institution. We believe it is a policy protective of our students while they are in our care and are deployed to internship programs in hospitals and to clinical practice," the PPC's statement read.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Perusing the comments on posts that shared the screenshots of both the memo and pages in the student manual, many agreed that it was an outdated policy. But there were who found merit in the school's intention of protecting the pregnant woman and her unborn baby from risks such as exposures to chemicals in a pharmacy and diseases while doing internships in hospitals.
"It's a practice not just for students but also health practitioners," read one comment on social media. "The chemicals, radiation and other occupational hazards on the courses stated on the memo make it reasonable to require pregnancy test amongst their students."
A 40-year-old mom of four countered, "That risk is best explained in the student primer and prientation and not imposed as it directly violates Magna Carta of Women and Privacy Protection Code."ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Other issues regarding the pregnancy policy also came up. One woman said the pregnancy test should be conducted during enrollment and not during midterms. Another person pointed to the exorbitant fee when a pregnancy test kit only costs less than Php150 in local pharmacies.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Some PCC graduates confirmed the policy has long been in place, but like other people, had no issue regarding the pregnancy policy, even when some schools of medicine that offer the same courses on pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing, do not impose a similar policy.
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