Thailand approves legislation to pave way to legalize abortions

Thailand’s cabinet has approved amending existing legislation to pave the way to legalizing abortion in the Southeast Asian nation. The change in law, agreed to by the cabinet came in on Tuesday and aims to allow women to seek and have abortions up to 12 weeks into their pregnancy. According to Rachada Dhanadirek, a government spokesperson, any attempts to curtail the termination of pregnancy within the 12 week time-frame would be deemed “an infringement of women’s rights.”

How will the amendment in the law help?

Rachada said, “The law amendment will support and protect women’s and their unborn children’s rights equally and remove women’s motivations to seek out illegal abortions, which are not safe.”

The official statement issued by the government said that the cabinet found the existing laws to be a “restriction on women’s rights” and contradictory to the “the constitution which dictates people have freedom over their lives and bodies.”

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What are Thailand’s existing laws with respect to abortions?

Thailand’s existing laws do not allow terminations at all unless the woman’s life is at risk or the pregnancy is a result of rape. Currently, women seeking a termination can receive a prison sentence of up to three years and a 60,000 baht ($1,980) fine. Under the proposed amendment the punishment for abortions beyond the 12-week limit would also be lower — up to six months in prison, or a 10,000 baht fine, or both, according to the statement.

What will happen next?

The proposed amendment has been submitted to parliament for consideration, and the government expects the changed law to come into effect by February 12 next year.

(with agency inputs)

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