BBC published an article late last night on their website that discusses the issues with abortion in Thailand. Abortion is there, as in many societies, illegal with the exception for cases of incest, rape or where the mother's life is in danger. In Thailand, as in other countries restrictive on abortion, it is socially conservative with regards to sex; it is thus not only the issue with 'taking a life', if that is how one views it, there is also a big problem with sex outside marriage.
Being a liberal myself, I am not a big fan of restricting human beings in this sense. Also not being religious, I don't believe that having sex outside marriage is inherently evil and will inevitably erode the morals in society. But this is not about trying to change Thailand's policies (although that would be very welcome), it is about the complete disconnect between attempt and outcome; something which can also be found in big parts in the US even though it is probably the most liberal country in the world when it comes to abortion. Some would even say too liberal as abortion is allowed up until when the foetus is viable outside the uterus, making the lines between consciousness/life and biological signs/non-life even more blurred.
Interesting is how these conservative views on sex seems to be linked with a high number in teenage pregnancies and single mothers. Conservative views on sex often, unfortunately, lead to a lack of sexual education as teenagers are believed to be too young to discover such things. Instead, they are expected to wait until they are of a certain age and in a committed relationship. Some societies have even stricter view on this and require waiting until marriage.
The problem with this is not necessarily that teenagers and adults are encouraged to wait until they are in a relationship with whom they feel very comfortable; it is the lack of information they receive when they are deemed not to be in that state. Lack of sexual education does not mean that teenagers will not engage in sexual activities. Teenagers will find out one way or another what the fuzz is about and how it all works. Unfortunately, when they do, their lack of knowledge on the topic makes them all the more likely to become pregnant or catch a sexually transmitted disease. If abortion is then also restricted, there will be an increase in single (often young) mothers who may not have any emotional or financial support from her family or the baby's father; either because they simply cannot give it, or in worst case because of the mother-to-be is ostracised from her community because of the taboo. Let's face it, if a teenage father becomes scared, he has the option to leave, like the father in the BBC piece above, but a mother cannot. There are many young fathers who do not, and they are amazing, but unfortunately, this is not the norm. At least not in societies that judge you if you took part in something that is considered a moral wrong and social taboo.
I believe that abortion is part of the human rights to self-determination over your own body, so in an ideal society this service would be available to all women, but unfortunately this is not the case. If abortion has to be restricted, why not put more effort into sexual education? Teenagers and young adults who have a solid base of knowledge in these matters are less likely to find out for themselves, and if they do, they are less likely to end up pregnant and poor, or infected with an STD. It makes sense to provide extensive sexual education anywhere to make citizens aware of the what it is exactly they are becoming involved with. An ignorant population makes for more mistakes. If teenagers do not know what contraceptive options are available to them, how are they going to be expected to use them? If they do not learn how the menstrual cycle works (and this is important for both girls and boys, as both are involved in a sexual act), how can anyone blame them when they say "I thought I couldn't become pregnant at this point in the cycle?"
If teenagers and young adults are expected to take their responsibility in sexual mattes, so should adults be: provide the young with proper sexual education.