Religious Influence on Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Intention: Experiences of Young Adults in Cebu City, Philippines

Alanna E. Hirz, University of California, Los Angeles
Jocelyn T. Chen, University of California, Los Angeles
Josephine Avila, University of San Carlos
Jessica D. Gipson, University of California, Los Angeles

Roman Catholicism shapes social norms and permeates union and childbearing decisions in the Philippines. To explore the contextual influences on reproductive decision-making, in-depth data were collected from young adults in Cebu City in 2007-08. Young adults, particularly women, seemed ill-equipped to negotiate safe sexual encounters. Contraceptive myths were pervasive in our sample and few reported modern contraceptive use. Pregnancies that were not planned were often attributed to divine intervention and usually precipitated the cohabitation or marriage of the young couple. Despite the perception that abortion was sinful, several participants acknowledged attempting to terminate a pregnancy. Failed abortion attempts were attributed to fate or the ‘will’ of the unborn child, rather than the use of an ineffective method. Findings from this study indicate the importance of understanding how religious influences may impede the provision and uptake of reproductive health services for young adults in the Philippines.

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Presented in Poster Session 1