01/20/2011, 00.00
THAILAND
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Abortion, a Thai tragedy in a sick society, says the Church

by Weena Kowitwanij
The discovery of 2,002 foetuses abandoned near a Buddhist temple in Bangkok sparks a national debate. Each year, between 110,000 and 130,000 illegal abortions are performed out of just over a million pregnancies, “a figure that is frightening” according to a specialist. For Mgr Kovithavanij, “Nobody mentions the ethical conduct and virtue of the family. Christian teaching promotes and supports respect for life.”

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The issue of legal and illegal abortions in Thailand is a dramatic one. For the Church, Thai “society is very ill and needs a special and urgent treatment” from an ethical point of view. The discovery of 2,002 foetuses near a Buddhist temple in central Bangkok in November 2010 shocked many people and has led to a discussion about morality in society. The authorities have opened an investigation into clinics that perform illegal abortions. They have also pledged drastic measures against the practice.

A 1957 law allows women to have an abortion in case of rape or threats to her life. However, if she does not report the case, abortions are not allowed.

“The number of pregnancies is 1,040,000 annually,” said Prof Soomboon Kunathikom, president of the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. “The 2010 statistics show that there were 800,000 new born babies. This leads to the conclusion that 240,000 babies were aborted.” Miscarriages are “around 96,000-120,000,” which leaves “120,000-144,000 voluntarily aborted babies. Of these, only 10,000 are legal. That is 1 per cent” of the total number of pregnancies. “Therefore, there are approximately 110,000-130,000 cases of illegal abortions yearly, a figure that is frightening.”

“Some people think that abortion is the right of the mother of the child in her womb,” Mgr Francis Xavier Kirengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok, told AsiaNews. “This shows that our society is very ill and needs a special and urgent treatment. Some politicians take a chance to promote legal abortion law.  Nobody mentions the ethical conduct and virtue of the family. Christian teaching promotes and supports respect for life.  We prepare the couple to have responsibility, to sacrifice and not to be self-centred, something that seems unconventional.”

“Thai society view young people who are pregnant as a social problem,” but “Abortion is not the way to solve it, said Fr Rocco Pairat Sriprasert

“I must accept that the social values are changing because some people think abortion is normal. They consent to kill their own babies in order not to be ashamed,” noted the Camillian clergyman, who is also the president of a pro-life organisation. However, “I would like religious organisations to promote a ‘civilisation of life’ to their youth in order to build a happy family. Society must be healed.”

“I feel very sad about the news” concerning the foetuses,” said Sister Saisuda Chawpaknam, from the Congregation of Good Shepherd, who is in charge of Mother and Child at ‘Happy Home’ project. For her, “If a mother can kill her own child, it reflects the morality of the society in which we live”.

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