Elective abortion rule to be eased
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Elective abortion rule to be eased

Women will get 20 weeks to decide

Elective termination of pregnancy for those who are between 12 and 20 weeks pregnant will be allowed in about a month from now, following an amendment to the Criminal Code's Section 305(5) that regulates abortions, the government said yesterday.

The Ministry of Public Health has issued an announcement pertaining to a guideline for healthcare personnel who deal with abortions and provide counselling for women who intend to terminate their pregnancy under the new change, said deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

Published in the Royal Gazette on Monday, the ministerial announcement is due to take effect in 30 days, she said.

According to the amended law, women who are between 12 and 20 weeks pregnant may abort under the supervision of a certified medical practitioner or related healthcare practitioner.

In the same announcement, the ministry recommended the Medical Council of Thailand and other organisations ensure women at this stage of pregnancy are given enough information regarding their elective abortions before making a final decision, said Ms Traisuree.

When the announcement takes effect, women who intend to terminate will have to formally notify an authorised healthcare provider by writing, phone or the permitted electronic means -- which will be announced later by the Department of Health, she said.

The healthcare providers must ensure a friendly atmosphere during counselling that is free of prejudice and not attempt to sway their opinion, she said, adding that complete confidentiality is mandatory.

The announcement still allows medical practitioners to dismiss any requests for an elective abortion without fear of facing legal action, so long as they refer the requesting party to one of their peers where appropriate, said Dr Phirayut Sanukun, head of the health promotion office at the Department of Health.

The change to the Criminal Code followed a decision by the Constitutional Court on Feb 19, 2020, regarding a petition filed against the previous version of the same section of the law, he said.

The court urged the cabinet to seek an amendment in line with a previous ruling that permits elective abortions, as well as legal abortions under the earlier version of the law, in the event of rape and specific health safety concerns, Dr Phirayut said.

The government must provide any student who changes her mind and decides against an elective abortion with 2,000 baht a month.

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