Thailand to expand rights on elective abortion

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Traisuree said women between 12 and 20 weeks pregnant may abort under the supervision of a certified medical practitioner or associated healthcare practitioner under the new amendment.

The government will ease regulations on elective abortion for women who are 12 to 20 weeks pregnant starting at the end of next month.

Following the amendment to the Criminal Code’s Section 305(5), which regulates abortions, the Ministry of Public Health issued an announcement regarding a guideline for public health personnel who work with abortions and provide counseling to women who intend to terminate their pregnancy under the new change. The ministerial announcement was published in the Royal Gazette on Monday (26 Sep) and is due to take effect in thirty days.



According to Deputy Government Spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul, women between 12 and 20 weeks pregnant may abort under the supervision of a certified medical practitioner or associated healthcare practitioner under the new amendment. Those wishing to abort must formally notify a registered healthcare provider in writing through phone or through other procedures that will be announced later by the Department of Health once the announcement takes effect.



The spokesperson also said the ministry has requested that the Medical Council of Thailand and other related agencies ensure that women at this stage of pregnancy are provided adequate information about elective abortions before making a final decision. She added that healthcare personnel must establish a welcoming, prejudice-free atmosphere while counseling and not seek to sway their opinion, noting that complete confidentiality is required.

The Department of Health nevertheless noted that the announcement still allows medical practitioners to refuse any request for an elective abortion without fear of legal repercussions, as long as they refer the requesting party to one of their peers when appropriate.



The amendment to the Criminal Code followed a decision by the Constitutional Court in February 2020 on a petition filed against the previous version of the same section of the law. The court encouraged the Cabinet to seek an amendment in line with a previous ruling that allows elective abortions, as well as legal abortions under the previous version of the law in the event of sexual assault and specific health safety issues. (NNT)












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