Thailand moves to legalize abortion despite it violating a key Buddhist teaching

By Jonathon Van Maren

Thailand’s government has taken steps to legalize abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, with the cabinet proposing two amendments to a law that bans abortions except in the cases of rape or if the woman’s life is at risk.

Until now, abortion has been illegal in predominantly Buddhist Thailand (although women procure illegal abortions from doctors who charge several thousand baht to rid them of their pre-born children.) If the government’s bill is passed by the House of Representatives in early 2021, women who “insist on terminating their pregnancies” will be able to do so in the first three months of pregnancy. The second amendment to Thailand’s abortion ban would make it legal for doctors to perform abortions.

Rachada Dhanadirek, a government spokeswoman, announced that this reversal would mean that preventing abortions in the first twelve weeks would, under the new regime, constitute “an infringement of women’s rights,” and that “the constitution which dictates people have freedom over their lives and bodies” dictates that abortion should be legal.

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