Thai abortion rights advocates call for increased legal services access

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Abortion rights supporters in Thailand called for improved access to legal abortion services, issuing a petition to Thossaporn Sereerak, a Pheu Thai MP for Phrae and member of the House Committee on Public Health. The Tamtang Group, a prominent advocate for safe abortion, yesterday, February 7, expressed concerns over the difficulties pregnant women face when seeking legal abortions, despite recent changes in legislation, explained Supecha Baotip of the Tamtang Group.

“Although the law already allows for abortions, in practice women who experience an unwanted pregnancy and want access to safe abortion services find it difficult to access legal pregnancy termination services find it difficult to access legal pregnancy termination services. It is no different from when the law was amended in September 2022.”

The group urged the committee to press the Ministry of Public Health to increase the number of nationally funded safe abortion services, thus ensuring countrywide coverage. They also called for a comprehensive list of safe abortion service centres and the implementation of measures promoting safe termination procedures.

According to Supecha, a survey conducted by the group revealed that the law’s enactment had done little to improve women’s access to legal abortion services. Many services are not available nationwide, and the fees, ranging from 3,000-20,000 baht (US$84-561) depending on gestation length, remain high, reported Bangkok Post.

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The National Health Security Office (NHSO) offers a free service for its gold card members to access medical abortions. However, hospitals often decline to provide this service, citing the lack of available doctors, Supecha added.

The group’s survey of medical professionals found that many doctors are unwilling to perform abortions due to various reasons, including religious beliefs. “Safe abortion services are still inaccessible for most people in need, just like when these services were illegal,” Supecha stressed.

Remote abortions

The Tamtang Group also proposed that the NHSO should accept complaints from those denied abortions by hospitals. The Ministry of Public Health, on the other hand, has suggested providing abortions remotely via telemedicine, added Supecha.

Thossaporn pointed out that even before the service can be provided, the initial hurdle lies in finding a doctor willing to give a medical opinion. The problem remains rooted in accessing a doctor who is ready to provide a medical opinion.

To address these concerns, the committee plans to invite the Ministry of Public Health, the NHSO, state agencies, and the Tamtang Group to develop a policy guideline for the ministry to follow.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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