Court orders rewrite of law on abortion
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Court orders rewrite of law on abortion

New rule to hold men accountable

The Constitutional Court has found a section of the Criminal Code to be unconstitutional for failing to hold men legally responsible for illegal abortions.

The ruling will take effect on Feb 13 next year -- 360 days after the ruling was made.

The court ruled on the issue after Srisamai Chueachart, a pro-abortion activist, petitioned the court to rule whether Sections 301 and 305 of the Criminal Code are in conflict with provisions on rights and liberties under the charter.

Section 301 stipulates that a woman who has terminated a pregnancy by herself or allowed another person to do it is liable to three years in jail and/or a fine up to 60,000 baht.

The petitioner argued the wording of Section 301 means only women will bear the legal consequences of illegal abortions -- even though men have an equal role in the conception of a child -- which is against the principles of equality guaranteed by the constitution.

As such, men who pressured their partners to seek illegal abortions must also be held legally accountable, according to the petitioner.

The court ruled Section 301 of the Criminal Code violates Sections 27 and 28 of the 2017 constitution, which accords equal rights and liberty to men and women.

However, the court found Section 305 does not violate the charter.

Section 305 of the Criminal Code exempts licensed doctors from prosecution if they performed an abortion for legitimate medical and/or other sound reasons -- for example, pregnancies which pose physical or mental health threats to the mother, of victims of sexual assault who are younger than 15 years old, or where the foetuses show severe and/or fatal abnormalities.

The petitioner insisted the section is out of date because it protects only physicians who perform the abortions, but not other medical personnel who are part of the procedure.

On whether Sections 301 and 305 should be amended and how, the court ruled the two sections should be rewritten to be in compliance with the highest law.

Activists have long campaigned for these two sections to be amended and have the Public Health Ministry regulate abortion instead.

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