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J Biosoc Sci. 2012 Nov;44(6):703-18. doi: 10.1017/S0021932012000120.

Women's autonomy and unintended pregnancies in the Philippines.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.


To date, very few studies have examined what contributes to unwanted and mistimed births in the Philippines. In a country where women have higher educational levels than their male counterparts, and their status is among the highest in Asia, it is expected that unwanted births will be low. The evidence, however, points to the contrary as 44% of births reported in the last five years were unintended. Using the 2003 Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey, this article focuses on married women who are currently pregnant and those who had given birth in the last five years. Multinomial logistic regression is employed to ascertain the risks of a recent birth/pregnancy being unwanted, mistimed or wanted. Regardless of women's status, having a final say in household and sexual matters with husbands lowers the risk of unwanted births but not mistimed births, calling into question the use of status variables such as education and wealth as indicators of women's autonomy. The success of implementing family planning programmes and policies in reducing unintended pregnancies underscores the importance of understanding how women are able (or unable) to make decisions surrounding their reproductive intentions.

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