Thai politicians have rejected a proposal to introduce abortion on demand through to 24-weeks, but proceeded with introducing abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
The new law, which came into effect today, will make abortion legal throughout the first trimester of pregnancy on demand, for any reason, and legal after that point in cases where giving birth poses a physical or mental health risk to the mother, where the baby is disabled, or where the pregnancy is a result of rape.
In January of this year, legislators in Thailand introduced amendments to the previous abortion law with its strong pro-life protections.
The Move Forward Party (MFP) proposed an alternative law that would have introduced abortion on demand through to 24 weeks, but in the end, the House voted in favour of the cabinet-sponsored bill introducing abortion on demand through to 12 weeks.
Previously, abortion had only been legal in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape, where giving birth posed a physical or mental health risk to the mother, or where the baby was disabled. Importantly, these provisions mean that abortion was and is available after the first trimester if a physician judges that these criteria have been met.
These changes have come into effect almost a year after a court ruled that the restrictions on abortion were unconstitutional.
Jihan Jacob, a legal adviser for Asia with the Center for Reproductive Rights said: “It is a positive development to have certain legal grounds that allow abortion, but it is not enough to ensure that all pregnant women can access abortion”.
The changes will place Thailand among the more permissive countries on abortion in Southeast Asia, where Vietnam sets no term limits for abortion while the Philippines has a near total ban on abortion.
Change in abortion law across the world
While Thailand moves in the same direction as Argentina, which has also recently removed protections for unborn children, Poland has recently introduced strong pro-life protections in law which forbid discrimination against babies in the womb with disabilities.
Previously, lethal discrimination against disabled babies was permitted in Poland but late last year, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that this discrimination was incompatible with the Constitution of the country.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “It is saddening to see another country move in this direction, to see another country deny its own citizens the most basic right: the right to life”.
“Britain made this mistake over 50 years ago and since then there have been over 9 million abortions. Thailand has just made the same grave error”.