Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called for a Senate investigation into the disturbing directive by a Baguio-based college mandating all its female students to undertake pregnancy tests before they are allowed to enroll.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 967, De Lima said the pregnancy policy imposed by the Pines City Colleges (PCC) in Baguio City to its female enrollees could become a precedent for discriminatory practices against pregnant students if allowed unchecked.
“Such discriminatory and unfair acts of depriving women and girls their right to access to education due to their condition further exhibits and proliferates the stigma against pregnancy and should not be tolerated and allowed,” she said.
Based on media reports, PCC school physician recently released a memorandum to the deans and department heads mandating all the female students of Dentistry, Nursing, and Pharmacy be tested for pregnancy in specific dates.
News reports further claimed that the students are even required to pay PhP150 for the pregnancy test which would be conducted by registered medical technologists from an accredited laboratory.
If tested positive, De Lima recalled that the female students would not be allowed to enroll in certain subjects the college deemed to be dangerous for the mother and child.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and various rights groups denounced the unjust policy, stating that the mandatory pregnancy test is not only discriminatory but also violates women’s right to “privacy and bodily autonomy.”
Amid the worsening abuses against women and children under the Duterte administration, the lady Senator from Bicol stressed the need for her fellow senators to see the urgency to formulate policies that would protect the rights of the former.
“It is crucial to address this issue and urge the Senate and concerned government agencies to formulate policies that would further uphold and promote women’s rights,” she said.
“There is an urgent need to protect and effectively address the educational needs and concerns of female students for them to attain their full productive capacity and vigorously partake and contribute to our national development,” she added.
As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, De Lima has authored and co-authored several bills and resolutions advocating women’s rights.
Among these measures include Senate Bill No. 1438 which seeks to provide protection of women in state custody and Senate Resolution No. 670 calling for an inquiry into the implementation of the Gender and Development plans and programs under the present administration.