January 29, 2013 00:00 By Wannapa Khaopa The Nation
Thailand plans to legalise abortion pills for some women with 'unwanted pregnancies' under Medical Council of Thailand regulations and criminal laws. The move would be done to provide safer and cheaper choices for some women, such as rape victims.
Generally, abortion is illegal in Thailand, but women with unwanted pregnancies whose health and lives will be badly affected would be allowed to undergo abortion under the proposed changes.
Academic information shows that pills called Mifepristone and Misoprostol can be used with patients in line with international standard treatment to end unwanted pregnancies within 63 days or nine weeks gestation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already registered these drugs in its essential drug list.
If both kinds of pills are registered legally in Thailand, use of the pills will be under strict control of the Ministry of Public Health. So, only doctors will be able to prescribe them. They must not be sold at pharmacies, according to the ministry.
The pills are said to provide safer and cheaper treatment than manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) as well as Dilatation and Curettage (D&C). The latter is considered the most risky method to abort a pregnancy.
Both of these pills, however, have reportedly been sold illegally via the Internet in Thailand, although the prices are extremely high.
The ministry, universities and civil society organisations have trained medical practitioners about MVA and also educated them about the pills, which are new. They are likely to try to include both methods in medical education curricula.
A recent international conference on women’s health and abortion urged every country to eliminate maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion and move to use safer abortion methods. Unsafe abortion was the second major cause of maternal deaths worldwide in 2008 or 14 per cent of 358,000 maternal deaths, while the first major cause was hemorrhage, which caused about a third of deaths. Unsafe abortion took more lives of women than infection (10 per cent) and HIV (7 per cent).
These figures were presented at the 2nd International Congress on Women’s Health and Unsafe Abortion (IWAC 2013) in Bangkok last week.
Kittipong Saejeng, director of the Bureau of Reproductive Health at the Department of Health under Ministry of Public Health, who took part in the congress said to decrease maternal mortality, the congress urged all coun?tries to get medical personnel use safer abortion technologies, such as MVA and pills.
He said it also pointed out that all women had to acknowledge their rights and access knowledge about their health and medical providers, whereas men had to respect women’s decisions. Based on laws of each coun?try, women should be able to make a decision on their own without influ?ence from men if they will undergo abortion or not.