Abortion, Sin, and the State in Thailand

By Andrea Whittaker | Go to book overview

5

Corrupt girls, victims of men, desperate women

Representations of women who abort

Rapid thudding music swells as dramatic images flash on the screen - women on hospital beds, instruments, medicines, doctor, clinic, nightclub, masked men with guns raiding a building, demonstrations, drugs, a knife, boats, police abseiling from helicopters - the show begins. The female host explains that a viewer has written a letter to the Tam la, ha khwamjing programme about a 'suspicious' clinic in Wiphawadi-Rangsit - it has darkened windows and most patients are young women who emerge from the clinic looking pale and sickly. The crew goes in with a secret camera in a handbag - we see blurred images of the inside of the clinic, patients being asked questions, a woman discusses the price of an abortion with the receptionist in muffled sound. The clinic is full of women patients, a few accompanied by men. The evidence is presented to the local police who set up a raid. Dramatic music reaches a crescendo as a pregnant undercover policewoman goes into the clinic to pretend to want an abortion. Again we see blurred images as she pays for the abortion. She sends a signal to the police as she is being prepared for the abortion. Plain-clothes policemen swarm over the clinic, upstairs and downstairs, making sure that the doctor and helpers don't escape from the back. We see two girls, aged 16 and 18, recovering following abortions. Questions are fired at them as their hair is pushed back from their pale faces. The camera moves through the clinic, we see an operating room, including instruments that are 'dirty with blood'. A senior uniformed policeman strolls through surveying the clinic and pointing at equipment. We are told that the doctor graduated from Mahidol University (Thailand's most prestigious medical school) and used to work for a famous Family Planning Clinic. He initially denied doing abortions but the girls confessed that they had just had an abortion. The host asks the camera…'Why don't young girls heed warnings about sex and contraception. It is probably because they have heard from word of mouth that it is possible to have an abortion - some have had many abortions, without feeling any kind of fear at all'.

An image of uniformed university students strolling around comes on the screen, as we are told that most clients of the clinic are students who find out about the clinic from their friends 'some have had 2 or 3 abortions'. The scene merges to one of the RCA nightclub strip in Bangkok showing young people

-91-

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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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