By Mario Casayuran
Detained opposition Sen. Leila M. de Lima called on Friday for an in-depth Senate probe into the ‘’disturbing’’ directive by a Baguio-based college mandating all its female students to undertake pregnancy tests before they are allowed to enrol.
In Senate Resolution 967, De Lima said the pregnancy policy imposed by the Pines City Colleges (PCC) in Baguio City to its female enrolees could become a dangerous precedent for discriminatory practices against pregnant students if allowed unchecked.
De Lima said 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.
A PCC school physician reportedly released recently 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 claimed that the students are even required to pay P150 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 enrol 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, De Lima stressed the need for her fellow senators to see the urgency to formulate policies that would protect the rights of the former.
De Lima said 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.
“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 explained.
De Lima, chairwoman of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, has authored and co-authored several bills and resolutions advocating women’s rights.