I am a 25-year-old public school teacher with a master’s degree, and presently a candidate for a Ph.D. I am also two months pregnant and unwed.
My partner and I have been together for almost eight years and we have a happy relationship. But he is still technically married to his wife, and has not had his marriage annulled. She
has since gone abroad after they separated.
Can I apply for maternity benefits in my case? What should I do? We’re really excited for our baby, but for this legal problem. I love my work and am proud of my profession. But I also have an immoral personal life.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock all these years, you must know that so many things around us are now protected by law. Most living creatures like insects, stray animals, diminishing wildlife, the air, soil, water—and yes, human beings, including those you’ve labeled as “immoral”—are safeguarded by law. That covers you, as well.
How could you have not researched what your rights are? Did you think that all these know-it-all lawmakers with the noises they make when they run for office could have forgotten the needs of people like you—people who contribute so much to the improvement of gray matter in their children and constituents? I should think not.
There has been the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710), which has been in our midst for some time now.
Section 13 (“Equal Access and Elimination of Discrimination in Education, Scholarships and Training”) of the new law prohibits schools from expelling or refusing female students and members of their faculty who get pregnant outside of marriage: “Expulsion and non-readmission of women faculty due to pregnancy outside of marriage shall be outlawed. No school shall turn out or refuse admission to a female student solely on the account of her having contracted pregnancy outside of marriage during her term in school.”
RA 9710, meanwhile, recognizes the right of women to health (Section 17), including access to maternal care and comprehensive health services, and information on breastfeeding and family planning methods.
The new law also grants a special leave benefit of two months with pay for women employees following surgery caused by gynecological disorders. This is on top of the two-month maternity leave that female employees can avail of upon giving birth.
Regarding your use of the word “immoral” to describe yourself—does it mean debauchery, perversion, lewdness, obscenity, wantonness, promiscuity? How about cruelty, selfishness and corruption? Are you any of these?
Is there no love in your relationship with your partner? No affection? No caring? Are you in this together for the money? For political position or connections, perhaps?
Falling in love and getting pregnant because of it does not smack of being immoral in my book. Do you agree?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn to define your terms judiciously, as they will bear much on how people define you.
E-mail the author at emarcelo@inquirer. com.ph or firstname.lastname@example.org.