Abortion, Sin, and the State in Thailand

By Andrea Whittaker | Go to book overview

1

Introduction

Bearing politics

Patient 1.

40 yrs old. Pregnant 8 weeks. Presented with bleeding per vagina, fever, dizziness, complains of weakness and tiredness…

Patient 2.

19 years old. Came by herself. Pregnant approximately 20 weeks. Stated that at 6.45 am she went to have an abortion at the Thawee clinic, presented to hospital 3.45 pm. Today had symptom of extreme abdominal pain, heavy blood loss. Upon presentation, temperature 37 degrees centigrade. BP 80/50mm/hg…

Patient 3.

23 years old. Presented at 16.00 hours, patient came lying down. Pain in lower abdomen, had passed a large clot in last 30 minutes…

Patient 4.

27 years old. Presented at 21.00 hours. Lower abdominal pain, bleeding per vagina, patient groggy. Had been bleeding heavily for one day before presenting to hospital. LMP 20 December 2539, Pregnant approx 18 weeks. BP 90/60mm/hg Temperature 40.5 degrees centigrade…(2 days later patient had not improved, was referred to provincial hospital)

Patient 5.

30 years old. Went for abortion 2 days before presenting, cold, weak, Temperature 39 degrees centigrade BP 120/70, UTI… (Selected medical records from one district hospital 1996/1997)

Every day, women like these present to hospital wards in Thailand with complications of illegal abortions. Despite restrictive abortion laws, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 300,000 abortions are performed each year, many using unsafe methods. Although many women experience no complications, others experience injury, infection, infertility and maternal death (Koetsawang et al. 1978, Narkavonnakit 1979, Chaturachinda et al. 1981, Narkavonnakit and Benett 1981, The Population Council 1981, Ladipo 1989). My interest in the issue began in 1991 when I first started fieldwork in Northeast Thailand, studying women's reproductive health. Among the women I knew well in my field site of Ban Srisaket, abortion was a whispered subject that few women spoke of to me. The elderly woman whose house I shared claimed no knowledge of the practice of abortion in the community, yet I found out from her daughter that her Aunt had died from an abortion, after attempting to induce an abortion following the insertion of some twigs into her uterus. Other women I interviewed were more

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Abortion, Sin, and the State in Thailand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Series Editor's Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Abortion, Sin and the State 11
  • 3 - A History of the Abortion Debate 29
  • 4 - Conceiving the Nation 66
  • 5 - Corrupt Girls, Victims of Men, Desperate Women 91
  • 6 - 'A Small Sin' 109
  • 7 - 'the Truth of Our Day-By-Day Lives' 129
  • 8 - Global Debates, Local Dilemmas 148
  • Appendix I 158
  • Appendix II 161
  • Glossary of Thai Terms 163
  • Notes 165
  • Bibliography 176
  • Index 187
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