In a landmark move, Thailand has now legalized abortions for women who are between 12-20 weeks pregnant.
Starting October 27, pregnant women can legally seek to have an abortion at any of the 110 hospitals and clinics that will be offering these services, after prior consultation with a medical expert. These facilities are located across 39 provinces in the country and women can use their gold health cards at state hospitals to access their service.
The legal terminations will be in accordance with a Ministry of Public Health directive that acknowledges that many women often feel the pressure to go ahead with a pregnancy even when they are not ready to have a child.
Director of the Bureau of Reproductive Health at the Department of Health, Dr. Boonyarit Sookrat stated that the Thai Medical Council had approved the Public Health Ministry’s edict on abortions in accordance with the constitutional principle that an individual has rights and liberties over their life and body.
He also mentioned that the doctors who conduct abortion under new regulations will not face legal consequences for the same.
Dr. Boonyarit additionally informed that some women need counselling before the procedure because although they are not ready to have a child, they fear that they might be committing a sin by terminating their pregnancy.
One could also visit rsathai.org website or call the hotline number 1663 to get more information.
Thai Pro-choice advocate, Supecha Baotip, who has been championing this cause in Thailand for over a decade, praised the new abortion law as a huge step towards resolving the issue of unwanted pregnancies. She noted that the requirement of seeking prior expert consultation is a reasonable approach for pregnant women.
Another abortion rights advocate, Sudarat Boonprasert informed that she had a termination around five years ago, but lacked channels through which she could seek consultation concerning her pregnancy.
Unlike our neighbor, abortion in Laos is accessible under very limited circumstances, like if the mother has medical conditions like cardiovascular problems, neurological disease, cancer, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, etc. which could lead to a complicated and potentially risky pregnancy. Induced abortions are also legal in instances where the health of the child is of concern, such as mental health conditions, heart conditions, or exposure to toxins and radioactivity.
Rape victims, minors, those whose contraceptives have failed, who have had more than four children, or who come from poor households are also considered eligible for abortion.