Conservative Buddhists oppose abortion because it kills a child regardless of considering that continuing pregnancy would kill a mothers’ life and opportunity.
Thailand has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the region due to section 301, Abortion is a crime; Women who seek an abortion face up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht, or both Anyone who performs an abortion is subjected to imprisonment and fines.
Women groups have been fighting for safe and legal abortion for nearly half a century in vain. Every time they demanded an amendment of the law that criminalizes abortion, religious groups came out to oppose it, saying abortion is a capital sin.
While religious groups focus solely on the fact that the killing of an unborn child is a capital sin, it is neglected that the mother may have lost many opportunities or even their life.
According to the National Health Security Office, over 300,000 women have sought medical treatment at state hospitals for incomplete abortions over the past decade. Nearly 100,000 of them suffered severe complications and infections. More than 20 of them have died each year.
“Safe and legal abortion is a health issue, not a religious one. We should treat it as such. By taking the moral stance, you end up killing women.” said Assoc Prof Kritaya Archavanitkul, a reproductive health activist and associate professor in demography offers her opinions on the issue.
“The biggest obstacle to women's reproductive rights remains the same as it always has - the religious belief that abortion is a sin,” said Assoc Prof Kritaya Archavanitkul.
The fact that Thailand still incorporates religion into its legal system has resulted in an endless debate, compelling many women to fight for the legalization of abortion for so long. Along the way, many women have lost their jobs, their mental health, and sometimes their lives. Assoc Prof Kritaya Archavanitkul stated, “It’s easier to fix the law than to fix the deep-rooted cultural beliefs that perpetuate violence against women.”
The social stigma with double standards condemning girls and women with an unplanned pregnancy as morally loose and tainted merchandise, resulting in confusion and pressure on women. Society always chooses to insult women before men, which is a consequence of the patriarchal society. Although two persons are responsible for the pregnancy resulting from consensual sex, the men are justified and can return to their normal lives, but the surrogate women are blamed and even forced to leave the school.
This sexism denies these women access to education, which is a ticket to their better future.
“The difference between abortion and motherhood for teenage students is clear. Those who ended their pregnancies went on to complete their education and get good jobs. In short, they succeeded in life.” said Narakorn Lairang, high school principal.
This is not simply a legal issue, it’s also a problem with the educational system.
Everyone should learn about safe sex, which can prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, to prevent abortion due to unplanned pregnancy.
“We need proper sex education about safe and protected sex. We need boys and men about responsible sex. We need to address sexual double standards that glorify men’s sexual prowess as part of manhood,” said Assoc Prof Kritaya Archavanitkul. Furthermore, welfare should be made available to women who want to keep conceiving and giving birth but are having financial difficulties, as this is one of the main reasons why many women choose to terminate their pregnancies.
"There's zero support for single mothers. Society opposes abortion but offers no help at all for women who do not or cannot choose abortion. That's hypocrisy.” said Assoc Prof Kritaya Archavanitkul.