Abortion, Sin, and the State in Thailand

By Andrea Whittaker | Go to book overview

8

Global debates, local dilemmas

[Reproductive rights] rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so.

(ICPD Programme for Action 1994, Paragraph 7.3)

We stand for the freedom of all women to make life choices - unchecked by cultural restrictions, legal or economic barrier - allowing them to realise their full humanity in all the diverse ways women may envision it…

(Correa 1994:93)

It is estimated that abortion accounts for at least 13 per cent of all maternal mortality globally (Berer 2000:1). Worldwide, an average of 35 out of every 1,000 women of childbearing age have an abortion each year and an estimated 20 million women have abortions each year in countries where abortion is restricted or prohibited by law. Despite such dramatic statistics, and acknowledgement of the human and public health costs of illegal abortion, access to legal safe abortion services for most women remains an elusive goal.

This book presents one case study of the local dilemmas surrounding the abortion issue in Thailand. Throughout this book I have moved from the broader social changes and politics of the abortion debate in Thailand to the personal experiences and decisions of women and men. This final chapter moves the discussion back again to a broad picture. Here I consider the transnational politics of abortion and how these influence local debates on the issue. I then examine some of the issues that emerge from the study of the abortion debate in Thailand and consider the challenges facing reform supporters in Thailand.


Global debate: the transnational politics of abortion

Thailand is not isolated from the 'transnational politics of abortion' (Crane 1994). As described in Chapter 3, organisations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation as well as the Population Council played influential roles in the early development of family planning and population policies in Thailand. As this

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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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