Thailand legalises early abortions; pro-choice groups want more

TAmendments expected to come into force this week, placing Thailand among more liberal Southeast Asian nations on reproductive rights.

By Zsombor Peter
9 Feb 2021

Thailand’s parliament has passed changes to the country’s criminal code, giving women full abortion rights in the first trimester of their pregnancy, almost a year after a top court ruled that existing curbs ran counter to the constitution.

Pro-choice groups have met the move with muted praise. They say the amendments do not go far enough and warn that many women may still turn to risky illegal abortions unless the government also commits to raising awareness and expanding access.


Explained: What are the amendments in Thailand’s abortion law

The opposition to abortion comes mainly from Thailand’s majority of conservative Theravada Buddhists who believe that abortion goes against the teachings of Buddhism.

Written by Mehr Gill
January 29, 2021

On Monday, Thailand’s Parliament voted to make abortion during the first 12
weeks of pregnancy legal. Before this, abortion was illegal in the country,
regardless of the duration of the pregnancy and was allowed only in limited
circumstances governed by the country’s medical council.

This week, another country made an announcement dealing with abortion laws. On
Wednesday, the right-wing Polish government said it will publish a court ruling
that proposed a near-total ban on abortion in its journal. This ruling banned
termination of pregnancies including of foetuses with defects. The government’s
sudden announcement has sparked countrywide protests in the country, where
abortion laws were already very strict.


Thailand Legalizes Early-Term Abortions but Keeps Other Restrictions

Women who end a pregnancy after 12 weeks could still face prison or fines. Abortion rights advocates say more change is needed.

By Muktita Suhartono and Mike Ives
Jan. 28, 2021

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Parliament has voted to make abortion legal in the first trimester, while keeping penalties in place for women who undergo it later in their pregnancies.

Lawmakers in the Senate voted 166 to 7 on Monday to amend a law that had imposed prison terms of up to three years for anyone having an abortion, and up to five years for those who perform one. The new version allows any woman to end a pregnancy in the first 12 weeks.


Thai monk faces online backlash over abortion stance

JANUARY 28, 2021
By Nanchanok Wongsamuth

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Buddhist monk known for his support for LGBT+ rights has sparked outrage among conservatives after he called for Thailand to decriminalise abortion.

Phra Shine Waradhammo was among about 20 pro-choice activists who protested in front of the Thai parliament this week, calling for all penalties to be revoked for women who choose to terminate a pregnancy.


Thailand Should Fully Decriminalize All Abortion

Draft Law Falls Short of 2020 Constitutional Court ruling

January 25, 2021
Heather Barr, Interim Co-Director, Women's Rights Division

Thailand's parliament is set to pass a law to permit abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law represents some progress in a country that currently threatens to imprison people who have abortions at any stage of their pregnancy but falls short of ensuring reproductive rights protected by international human rights law.

In February 2020, Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing criminal code provision, which imprisons for up to three years people who have an abortion and five years for those who perform them, is unconstitutional. It gave the government 360 days to change the law, and with the unconstitutional provisions identified by the court set to be automatically repealed by February 12, 2021, time is running short.   


Thailand – Historic abortion bill passes

12-week termination limit moves closer

24 DEC 2020

A cabinet-sponsored bill that seeks to legalise early-stage abortions passed its first reading on Wednesday.

The bill would for the first time allow women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant to have abortions performed by a qualified doctor should they request it for any reason.

They would not need to show they have been
raped or that the pregnancy threatens their life or that the unborn baby would
be born disabled.


Thailand – Women on frontlines of democracy movement

Bangkok Post

Denouncing sexual violence, demanding abortion reform and destigmatising sex work -- once-taboo issues are finding public expression in Thailand as women take up leadership roles in a youth-led pro-democracy movement.

On the protest frontlines, they are urging for gender equality in a kingdom where workplaces and politics are still dominated by men.


Planned Parenthood Hails New Law Allowing 12-week Abortion

By Khaosod English
November 19, 2020

BANGKOK — A leading family planning organization on Wednesday welcomed a legal amendment that would allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and protect doctors who perform the operations from prosecution.

The change to Thailand’s Criminal Codes was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, and is expected to come into effect by February 2021. A spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand said the protection of rights to abortion would help save women from undergoing unsafe prodecures to terminate their pregnancy. 


Thailand – Abortion in first 12 weeks to be allowed


The cabinet has approved a law amendment bill that allows women with pregnancies of not more than 12 weeks to get an abortion.

If approved by the House of Representatives early next year, the bill will let such women have abortion if they “insist on terminating the pregnancies”.


South Asia – ASEAN Underground Abortion

ASEAN Underground Abortion

Athira Nortajuddin
6 July 2020

Abortion is an extremely taboo topic in some parts of conservative Southeast

ASEAN member states such as the Philippines and Lao do not permit abortion.
Whereas Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand only allow abortion if a medical
practitioner deems that continuing the pregnancy poses a danger to the mother’s
life and health.