The Constitutional Court has ruled a section of the Criminal Code unconstitutional, effectively decriminalising abortion in Thailand. The ruling takes effect 360 days after the ruling date on Wednesday, or on Feb 13 next year.
The court also ordered the section and a related one be amended to make them in line with the 2017 constitution. The ruling came after Srisamai Chueachart petitioned the court to rule whether the laws on abortion — Sections 301 and 305 — are in conflict with provisions on rights and liberties under the charter.
Section 301 of the Criminal Code punishes a woman who has terminated a pregnancy by herself or allowed another person to do it with three years in jail and/or a fine up to 60,000 baht. The court ruled the section violates Sections 27 or 28 of the 2017 Constitution, which endorse equal rights between men and women, as well as the right and liberty of everyone in his/her life and person. Section 305 of the Criminal Code exempts the offence under Section 301 for medical reasons and for doctors who perform it. The execeptions are a pregnancy that poses a physical or mental health threat to the mother, girls younger than 15 years old who have been raped and foetuses with fatal abnormalities.
They blame it on a deeply rooted attitude in the Criminal Code, which views abortion is a crime. Besides, Section 301 is the only one in the code that exclusively mentions women — other sections use the term “a person”. They also point out the fact that a pregnancy is not caused only by a woman, but a man has never been punished in the same way for an abortion. They also claim the laws penalise women although there is no damaged party and the decisions are within their right. Another main reason is doctors are reluctant to perform the procedure even though exemptions are outlined in the law, forcing some women to seek help from illegal clinics.