Let me be direct. When you say you are against abortion because it's sinful, it's not your morality talking, it's your misogyny.
In other words, you're not driven by compassion, but by a hate for women who you think stray from the "good girl" norms.
Sorry for being blunt. But when nearly 1,000 women in Thailand die each year because your opposition has been preventing them from having access to safe abortions, it's necessary to ask why you're allowing your righteousness to take other people's lives.
It's the same question asked by advocates of safe abortion from around the world who are now convening in Bangkok to discuss ways to prevent deaths as a result of unsafe black-market procedures. Although they differ in nationalities, ethnicities and religions, they live under the same patriarchal culture that seeks to control women by managing their sexuality.
That's why advocates of safe abortion anywhere in the world face the same obstacles from sexual double standards, gender-oppressive values, sexist laws, and the lack of safe medical intervention _ all of which stem from the argument that abortion is sinful.
I have a problem with this argument.
When you are imposing your morality on others, you should have a responsibility to help them meet your moral standard too, don't you think?
If you really believe abstinence is the answer, then why are only girls being punished for failing to adhere? Why do you oppose sex education in schools when Thailand has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in Asia and one of the highest abortion rates in the world?
If you want to convince women with unplanned pregnancies to keep their babies, where is the support? Where are the counselling, foster care, or adoption services? Where are the efforts to get rid of social stigma and, for young girls, to ease their fear that childbirth means losing out on education and other life opportunities?
If you care so much about the life of an unborn child, why do you neglect the children when they are born? If not left to suffer a difficult childhood because their mothers lack the resources to take care of them, the kids struggle in crowded state orphanages where they grow up loveless. The anti-abortion brigade sometimes allows itself to feel even more righteous by giving these kids free lunches once in a while.
In the past three decades, many legal changes that initially seemed impossible have become a reality here. Women becoming district chiefs and provincial governors used to be big news. Not any more. Before, the legal campaigns to equalise name prefixes for men and women were ridiculed and dismissed. Now we have a prime minister who is an officially unmarried mother of one, using Ms as a prefix, and no one raises an eyebrow.
Yet every attempt to amend the draconian abortion law which turns vulnerable women into criminals and inmates has failed miserably because of a religious lobby rooted in misogyny.
But even if a more liberal abortion law is adopted, it will be ineffective anyway as long as our pro-male culture remains intact.
There are already some legal channels available to help women end unplanned pregnancies safely. For example, the law says the pregnancy of girls under 15 is considered a result of rape, meaning abortion is legal for them. Also, the Medical Council's regulations allows abortion when the pregnancy seriously affects a woman's mental health. Yet most physicians refuse to approve or carry out the procedure, forcing women to turn to quacks.
Worse, the physicians here continue to resort to curettage, or the scraping of the womb, to handle both natural miscarriages and incomplete abortions. Why inflict such a painful method of treatment on women when medical technology has long made it easy and safe to end early pregnancies with pills and womb suction?
Why ban the pills which enable women to make their own pregnancy decisions? Why refuse to accept the inexpensive and uncomplicated womb suction tool which can be easily used by nurses and midwives? Is this an issue of morality or power?
If you insist on talking sin, then at least let the ones who will bear the consequences of the sin make their own decisions. If they believe the mothers are just asking the souls who will be born as their children to wait until they are ready, who are you to intervene? And if your high moral ground ends up causing others injuries and deaths, whose sin is it going to be now? Think about it.
Sanitsuda Ekachai is Editorial Pages Editor, Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Sanitsuda Ekachai
Position: Assistant Editor