Following proposed regulations issued by the Public Health Ministry, Thailand will soon permit abortions up to the 20th week of pregnancy, as stated by a government official yesterday.
The regulations, which come into effect on October 26 and were published on Monday in the Royal Gazette, are set to relax the parameters of a law that had been in place since February of last year which authorised the termination of pregnancies throughout the first 12 weeks.
The Criminal Code’s abortion restrictions were overturned by Thailand’s Constitutional Court in February 2020 after finding that they infringed women’s rights to equality, life, and freedom. Previously, abortion was punishable by either a fine of up to 10,000 baht (around RM1,208) or six months in prison, or both.
In accordance with the new guidelines, individuals who wish to undergo an abortion between the 12th and 20th week must first counsel with and get permission from a licensed healthcare practitioner. This is to ensure that they fulfil certain criteria and “have all of the information before they decide to terminate the pregnancy,” as noted in the government statement.
However they can arrange, by themselves, to have the operation performed at a healthcare facility anytime before the 12th week.
The foetus must be carried to term after the 20th week.
In February 2021, the Criminal Code was amended in Thailand to make abortions during the first 12 weeks legal. Before that, they were outlawed, though there were occasional exceptions for situations where the mother’s physical or mental health was at peril, the woman was under 15, the pregnancy was a result of sexual abuse or incest, the foetus had developmental disabilities or deformities, or the mother’s life was at risk.
Nevertheless, the nation with a predominance of Buddhists still regards abortion with great stigma owing to a 2010 incident in which 2,000 unlawfully aborted foetuses were found in a temple.
However, in line with that, many believe that lawful abortions will allow individuals to terminate their pregnancies safely and avoid having citizens resort to dangerous, life-threatening and unsanitary methods to have the procedure done.
Abortion in Malaysia is still illegal and currently regulated under Sections 312–316 of the Penal Code
In Malaysia, accordance with Section 312 of the Penal Code, “Whoever wilfully causes a woman to miscarry is subject to imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both; and if the woman is quick with child (beyond her fourth month of pregnancy), she is punishable by imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and is also liable to a fine.”
However, the termination of pregnancy is allowed if done to save the individual’s life or to protect their mental and physical state.
Always refer to a professional prior to undergoing medical operations.
Local organisations exist to support and advocate for reproductive health in Malaysia. RRAAM is one such organisation. Twelve groups and persons, including the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), and the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership, joined forces to create the RRRAM (ASAP).
RRAAM is accessible at +6 012-4772551, to assist and respond to related questions.
For additional details on safe abortions in Malaysia, you may also visit their website.