Thailand to legalize abortion for up to 20 weeks – Manila Bulletin

Thailand to legalize abortion for up to 20 weeks

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand will legalize abortion for up to 20 weeks, the government announced Tuesday, easing pregnant women’s access to the previously restricted medical procedure.

Dismissals remained illegal in the kingdom – barring an incident of rape or a threat to the mother’s life – until February last year, when it was lifted for pregnant women until at 12 weeks.

However, there remains intense stigma around the procedure in the Buddhist-majority country, marked by a case in 2010 where around 2,000 illegally aborted fetuses were discovered in a temple.

Dismissals of up to 20 weeks would now be permitted, a government statement said on Tuesday, adding that “dismissal will not be considered a crime”.

Previously, abortion was punishable by a fine of up to 10,000 baht ($263) or six months in jail, or both.

A notice published in the Royal Gazette on Monday said that women who were more than 12 weeks pregnant but less than 20 weeks pregnant wanting a legal abortion had to meet certain criteria.

The government press release specifies that people in this category must “consult medical advisers so that the woman has all the information before deciding to terminate her pregnancy”.

Despite the change in the law in February last year, access to abortion throughout the kingdom remains limited and highly stigmatised.

Deputy government spokesman Traisuree Traisoranakul told local outlet Thai PBS that women seeking dismissal should be treated with respect and in the strictest confidence.

She added that they should be given all the medical information and should not be pressured about the decision.

The new law will come into force 30 days after the publication of the notice.

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