New Thai rules allow abortions up to 20th week of pregnancy

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand will allow abortions up to the 20th week of pregnancy under new regulations issued by the Public Health Ministry, a government spokesperson announced Tuesday.

The regulations, published Monday in the Royal Gazette, come into effect Oct. 26 and liberalize the terms of a law in place since February last year that allowed the termination of pregnancies during the first 12 weeks.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court in February 2020 struck down statutes in the Criminal Code banning abortions, declaring they violated equal rights for men and women and the rights to life and liberty.

Under the new regulations, women seeking abortions between the 12th and 20th weeks must first consult with and receive approval from an authorized medical practitioner. Up until the 12th week, women can make arrangements on their own to have the procedure carried out at a medical facility. After the 20th week, the fetus must be carried to term.

Abortions during the first 12 weeks became legal in Thailand in February 2021 under amendments to the Criminal Code. Previously they had been illegal, with significant numbers of exceptions made for cases in which the mother’s physical or mental health was threatened, the woman was under 15 years of age or became pregnant as the result of rape or incest, or the fetus had serious disabilities or deformities.

Deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said the new regulations call for the consultations in the second trimester to be based on openness and kindness in dealing with pregnancy issues, to be non-judgmental of women’s behavior and decisions, and to allow decisions on whether or not to have abortions to be made “without bias, force, and with respect for privacy.”

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