Gabriela slams Baguio college for mandatory pregnancy test

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — A Baguio City college is in hot water over an alleged policy that subjects its female students to mandatory pregnancy testing.

The Gabriela Women's Party reposted a viral memo from Pine City Colleges medical clinic on Tuesday, decrying it as discriminatory, violative of the law, and "[perpetuating] an old view and stigma that pregnancy is socially unacceptable and against the norm."

 

Pine City Colleges could not be reached for comment.

The supposed memo from the medical clinic to the school's deans and department heads announced a mandatory pregnancy test on female students taking up dentistry, nursing and pharmacy. The tests are scheduled this week, from November 7 to 9.

Signed by school physician Aurelia Navarro M.D., the document also said the students are required to pay their own fees for the test, amounting to P150. It was noted by the school's Vice President for Administration Ma. Regina Prats.

Women's advocate, Elizabeth Angsioco, first posted the supposed memo on Twitter, along with pages from the school clinician's manual.

 

According to a section of a document labelled "Policies on Pregnancy," students found to be pregnant could not enroll in certain classes, including clinical dentistry, endodontics, hospital dentistry and other subjects that could "endanger both mother and child." How the subjects put pregnant students at risk was not mentioned, but pregnant students would still be allowed to take general education or cultural subjects.

The supposed policy further detailed guidelines if a student was to get pregnant at the beginning, middle or end of a semester. In all cases, she would be required to report her condition to the Dean. In the first two semesters, she is advised to take a leave of absence.

"If a student is aware of her pregnancy but did not report her condition and is found to have violated the above policy, she is considered dropped/failed on the subjects mentioned," it read.

The supposed policy also said the findings of the school doctor would prevail if it is found to conflict with those of an outside physician. The student would have to object to the findings on the same day she is informed of the school physician's results, and "must be willing to submit herself to a thorough medical examination such as ultrasound, blood test, and physical examination." Any further objects would be raised to the dean.

In another document posted by Angsioco, labelled the "College Policy on Pregnancy" under the College of Pharmacy, the student is required to prove she did not commit abortion if she did not carry the pregnancy to term.

"Termination of pregnancy will be subjected to thorough investigation and it is the student's obligation to provide proof of her claim and must be willing to submit herself to medical examination," the document read. It continued, "Intentional abortion is not tolerated b y the college. A student who commits abortion will be dismissed from Pines City Colleges."

Under Article IV, Section 13 of the Magna Carta on Women, or Republic Act 9710, expulsion and non-readmission of women faculty and students on the basis of pregnancy out of marriage is against the law.

The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are tasked with overseeing this provision.

The CHED has yet to respond to CNN Philippines' request for comment.

 

Sexist and discriminatory?

Angsioco -- who posted the policy on Twitter -- said it was a violation of the Magna Carta of Women, or Republic Act 9710, which prohibits discrimination against women. Some pointed out that male students who impregnated their classmates were not subject to the policy.

 

 

 

The supposed policy was also slammed as a violation of privacy and a possible money grab. Some said that it was unfair for the girls to pay for their own test when it was the school imposing the policy on them.

 

 

While the Philippines has a high global rating in gender equality, the country still struggles in policies and the treatment of women. Bills combatting harassment and passing divorce have yet to become laws.

The viral post comes after the Philippine National Police said it would continuelimiting the recruitment of female police officers to handle women and children's cases. Police Chief Oscar Albayalde cited the newly expanded maternity leave as one of the reasons why the police did not need more women.

This is a developing story.  Refresh the page for more updates.

CNN Philippines multi-platform writer Regine Cabato contributed to this report.