Cabinet endorses abortion bill allowing termination up to 12 weeks of pregnancy

The Thai cabinet has approved amendments to the abortion law, to allow a woman who is no more than 12 weeks pregnant to have an abortion.

The bill to amend Sections 301 and 305 of the Criminal Code corresponds with a decision by the Constitutional Court, on March 3rd this year, which ruled that the two sections forbidding abortion amount to an unnecessary restriction of the rights and liberties of women.

Ms. Ratchada Thanadirek, deputy government spokesperson, explained that the 12 weeks is to be determined by medical professionals, under the guidelines set by the Medical Council, and is regarded as a safe period during which to have an abortion.

According to the amendment to Section 301, the penalty for women who have an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy has been reduced from three years to six months, and the fine has been cut from 60,000 baht to 10,000 baht.

Amendment to Section 305 makes it possible for pregnant women to get an abortion if it is necessary to reduce the risk to mental or physical health, or if it necessary to protect the women from serious mental or physical consequences if a birth is allowed.

Under the current abortion law, abortion is illegal, but there are exceptions, for example in the case of a woman who was sexually assaulted, or a woman who needs an abortion because her life would be in grave danger if an abortion is not undertaken.

Ms. Ratchada said that the amendment bill is set to become enforceable on February 12th next year, in line with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.  If the bill is not enforceable by then, she said Section 301 cannot be enforced for any abortion cases because it would be unconstitutional.

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