State news agency MCOT announced the news following deputy government spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek explaining that the Cabinet had approved to revise Sections 301 and 305 of the Criminal Code, as requested by the Council of State.
Section 305 is to be amended with two exceptions, Ms Ratchada explained.
A clause will be added to allow any woman with a pregnancy not more than 12 weeks to have an abortion if she insists on terminating the pregnancy.
The other exception added is when there is a high risk of serious fetal impairment, Ms Ratchada said.
The current clause allows abortion only in the event of medical conditions or risks to life for the women, or when the pregnancies are the result of rape, deceptions or coercion.
“This revision is to follow the judgement of the Constitutional Court on Feb 19 this year,” Ms Ratchada explained.
“The judge explained that Section 301 limited women’s rights and freedoms more than necessary and contravened Section 28 of the Thai constitution upholding a person’s rights to their own body,” she said.
The penalties are to be revised under the amendments made through changes to Section 301.
“Section 301 currently stipulates that any woman causing herself to be aborted or allowing another person to procure an abortion for her shall be imprisoned not more of three years or fined not more of B60,000, or both,” Ms Ratchada explained.
“The punishment has been revised so that any woman with a pregnancy of more than 12 weeks causing herself to be aborted or allowing another person to procure an abortion for her shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than B10,000, or both,” she said.
However, the draft bill of amendments has yet to be passed by Parliament.
“The bill will be sent to the House and is expected to take effect before Feb 12 next year,” ms Ratchada said.
“The Constitutional Court wrote in its ruling that if the laws were not changed within 360 days, they will automatically be repealed because they were in breach of the constitution,” she added.
“This amendment will support the protection of women’s rights, create confidence for medical staff to provide abortions as requested, and reduce the motivation for having abortions performed illegaly, which risks women’s lives,” she said.
“Allowing the termination of fetuses will likely also help alleviate stress among parents who are not ready to raise a disabled child,” she added.
The issue of illegal abortions in Thailand made international news 10 years agao after more than 2,000 fetuses were found in bags at Wat Phai Ngern Chotanaram in Bangkok’s Bang Kholaem district.
The gruesome discovery inspired officials to launch a blitz that targetted about 3,900 clinics they suspected of performing abortions.