In our 3 June newsletter, we reported that the Choice Network in Thailand had handed in a petition that some of us signed addressed to the Department of Health, calling for telemedicine for early abortion and access to safe abortion for everyone who requested it. The Department of Health (DOH) organized two online meetings to talk about this, which our colleagues participated in. They DOH agreed with providing telemedicine during the crisis as a concept, but said there were still many problems in practice. One was how to address the need for an ultrasound and another was how to avoid sending the MA pills directly to women. In order to resolve these, they said, it will take more time to set up acceptable procedures.
The Choice Network then heard that the government was also considering amending the current abortion law, The reforms they are considering are not yet public but they may create a number of barriers that could and should be avoided. They are also unlikely to decriminalise abortion, even though some abortions will be permitted, as happens now.
The Civil Society Network of 41 organisations has a new petition for us to sign.
The petition calls on the government to:
1. Decriminalise women who seek and have an abortion. Delete Clause 301 in the current law which criminalises women who have abortions except….
2. Permit abortion up to 24 weeks on the woman’s request, and after 24 weeks in the few cases that occur, on the following grounds – to protect the woman’s health, grounds of rape, serious fetal anomaly, contraceptive failure, and socio-economic reasons.
We call on every Campaign member to sign this petition as an organisation or an individual
To sign the petition as an individual, please go to this website, where the text is in Thai and English: http://chng.it/QJjgTLrX
To sign the petition as an organisation, please write to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Constitutional Court ruled that Penal Code Section 301 is against the Constitution and ordered the government to revise the law within 360 days. However, the Network is concerned that the government will not repeal that clause but will revise the law by setting an upper gestational age limit of 12 weeks in the law for legal abortions, effectively making abortions after that subject to a fine or imprisonment. (See the petition for details.)
Hence, the Network is seeking to reform this law. They say: “there are many reasons why women seek abortions in the second trimester, especially in a country which does not dare to promote their services and does not provide enough reproductive health information and protect rights, of which Thailand is an example.”
For a detailed list of the clauses in the current law that need reforming or deleting, and a clear explanation by the Choices Network on the reforms they are calling for, see Bangkok Post, by Penchan Charoensuthipan, 14 June 2020
Information from Tamtang Group/Choices Network, 15 & 16 June 2020