THAILAND – Two different responses to the Cabinet’s proposed abortion law reform

In mid-November 2020, the Thai Cabinet proposed amendments to the current Thai abortion law for the country’s parliament to consider. See our report of 20 November 2020. On 19 November, it was reported that the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand had welcomed the Cabinet’s proposal, saying “the protection of rights to abortion would help save women from undergoing unsafe procedures to terminate their pregnancy”.

However, the proposed amendments do not go far enough for the national Choices Network, which represents more than 60 Thai civil society organisations and more than 30,000 individuals. They have proposed a different draft law, as follows:

“Since Section 301 of the Criminal Code criminalises abortion, we propose to decriminalise abortion by abolishing Section 301 of the Criminal Code.

“Regarding Section 305 of the Criminal Code, we propose to amend it as follows:

(1) Allows a practitioner (or health personnel working under a practitioner’s supervision) to perform abortion for women with pregnancies of not more than 24 weeks.

(2) For women with pregnancies of more than 24 weeks, only a practitioner can terminate the pregnancy, in five circumstances:
a. The pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or her physical or mental health;
b. The pregnancy resulted from a criminal act defined by the 1957 Criminal Law Articles 276, 277, 283, and 284 (i.e. the pregnancy resulted from rape, sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 years, or abduction of the woman into prostitution);
c. The pregnancy needs to be terminated because of fatal fetal abnormalities;
d. The pregnancy resulted from contraceptive failure;
e. The pregnancy needs to be terminated because of socio-economic reasons.

One of the leaders of the Choices Network wrote: “We are now looking forward to lobbying political parties here to decriminalise abortion.”

SOURCES: Khaosod English + PHOTO, 19 November 2020 ; E-mail from Kritaya, Choices Network, 23 November 2020