Since February, anyone seeking an abortion in Thailand has been able to do so legally, at least in the first trimester. Still, many doctors and nurses refuse to carry out the procedure.
The lawyer Supecha Baotip told the The World that the refusal of Thai health professionals “is more than just a feeling”. It’s a matter of belief at the spiritual level,” he added.
Abortion is illegal in other major Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, which is largely Islamic, and the Philippines, a bastion of Catholicism. Both Islam and Catholicism are firmly opposed to abortion.
In Thailand, a country where about 95% of the population is Buddhist, many believe in karma – the idea that spiritual forces can punish us for good or bad deeds, in this life or the next.
Although the Buddha was not entirely explicit about abortion when he spread his teachings more than 2,500 years ago, many monks in Thailand believe that this brings bad karma..
Speaking to journalists, the monk Phra Ratchadhamanithet even said that “spoiled women will have abortions”. “They have desires to do the things that lead to the birth of a child. However, they are not prepared to take care of it.”
According to Supecha, health professionals take this type of statement very seriously. “It’s more than science. It’s about spiritual things“he explained.
The major change in the law followed a decision by constitutional judges, who concluded that severe sentences – such as up to three years in prison for women who have abortions – violated constitutional guarantees of freedom.
O The World details that, in recent years, about 300,000 abortions a year they may have taken place in Thailand, but many of them took place with little or no security. The legal change could help in this regard, while decreasing the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.