More than 30,000 women were admitted to hospitals in 2011 after illegal abortions went wrong, an academic says.
A total of 30,389 women were admitted to hospitals under the 30-baht universal health care scheme in 2011 after undertaking illegal abortions, Kamheang Chaturachinda said. Four of them died.
Medical care for patients who obtained illegal abortions cost the government 154 million baht, he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2nd International Congress on Women's Health and Unsafe Abortion in Bangkok yesterday, he said the illegal abortion rate in Thailand is still a critical concern.
He said 80% of patients admitted to hospitals after illegal abortions were adults and the rest were teenagers.
Dr Kamheang said research showed 60% of pregnancies are unplanned and the problem involves adults more than teenagers.
Public health officials have launched campaigns to promote safe sex and prevent unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions among teens, but this would meet only limited success, he said.
"I think trying to prevent illegal abortions among teenagers alone will not solve the problem," Dr Kamheang said.
"This is because illegal abortions are sought by adults in a much larger number," he said.
He attributed the high rate of illegal abortions in Thailand to limited access to legal abortion services and medical care for women with unwanted pregnancies.
The law allows women with unwanted pregnancies to undertake abortions in cases where they are under 15 years of age, have poor health or are rape victims.
He said many other women with unwanted pregnancies had to rely on the services of unqualified and illegal clinics for abortions because they could not go anywhere else.
He also urged the Public Health Ministry to allow registration of abortifacient drugs (drugs which cause miscarriages) in Thailand. Smuggled abortifacients such as mifepristone and misoprostol are selling for 5,000 baht a tablet against the actual cost of about 30 baht, he said.
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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat