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101 East
Thailand's unborn
A high rate of unwanted pregnancies has led many to question Thailand's abortion laws.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2011 15:08 GMT

The gruesome discovery of more than 2,000 foetuses in a Bangkok temple sent shockwaves across Thailand last November.

As most abortion is illegal in Thailand, the case has shone a spotlight on a massive backstreet industry and sparked national debate about the country's current abortion laws, which date from the 1950s.

Religion has played a significant social and political role in this debate. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is a socially conservative force. About 95 per cent of the population are Buddhist and Buddhism remains closely tied to the state.

The Buddhist nation has strict laws on abortion and views it as a sin.

"In Buddhism, we see abortion as a sin. It definitely violates our religious belief. Killing is a sin. It doesn't matter whether the killing takes place inside or outside the womb, it's a sin," Phra Kru Wichitsorakul, the abbot of Phai Ngern temple, says.

Illegal abortion is a huge problem in Thailand, a country of 67 million people. Official statistics suggest around 300,000 abortions are carried out each year in Thailand, the vast majority in backstreet clinics.

And with hundreds of unwanted pregnancies illegally terminated every day, these foetuses have turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.
 
On this edition of 101 East, we take on Thailand's taboo subject and ask if the country's abortion laws are out of step with reality.

This 101 East episode aired from Thursday, January 27, 2011.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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