The struggle for abortion law reform in Thailand

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In Thailand abortion is against the law except in cases of risk to a woman's health or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or other sexual crimes. This paper presents an overview of the history of the abortion debate in Thailand based upon research conducted from 1997-2001 for an ethnographic and historical study. Information was taken from media reports from 1950 in the Thai and English language press, a review of parliamentary records and interviews with 10 key informants. The debate over legal reform started in 1973. A reform bill was passed in 1981 in the House of Representatives but defeated in the Senate, primarily due to the lobbying efforts of Chamlong Srimuang, the leader of a broad-based religious coalition, who has been central in the anti-reform movement since then. The current democratically elected government in Thailand offers the best hope yet for reform, though abortion remains a politically sensitive issue, sensationalised in the press to counter reform efforts. A new advocacy network has recently been formed, including a range of women's organisations, public health advocates, academics and journalists. Current proposals from governmental and medical profession bodies may make abortions available to some women, but most, who seek abortions due to socio-economic and family planning reasons, will continue to have to find abortions by whatever means they can.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2002


  • Abortion law and policy
  • Buddhism
  • Clandestine and unsafe abortion
  • Thailand

Cite this