It is "ironically tragic" that a mother should "want the death of her child when she should protect him as best she can," Card Michai Kitbunchu, archbishop of Bangkok, told AsiaNews after some NGOs called for the legalisation of abortion in Thailand.
The prelate said that "Catholic doctrine strongly opposes abortion since man was made by God in His image, and blessed him above all other creature. Human life is the Father's most precious gift, valued and full of dignity."
The proposal to legalise abortion came at a conference sponsored by Thammasat University's Faculty of Social Administration which brought together Thai NGOs to discuss abortion, "not as a moral issue, but one of human rights, an issue involving women."
Labour leader Chitra Kochadej said that according to World Health Organisation data, "every year 200,000 women die from illegal abortions, of these 5,000 in South-East Asian countries."
Therefore, "Thai society," she said, "should give women who are economically not ready to have a child the means to have a legal abortion."
For Nattaya Boonpakdee, a coordinator with the 'Understanding on Women Health Foundation', "unlicensed abortion is killing many women who die at home soon after" the operation [. . . .] It is clear that the law and morality do not go hand in hand in our present society."
Bishop George Yod Phimphisan, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, told AsiaNews that "the Catholic Church cannot support abortion no matter what the reason. Abortion is the taking of a life which is God's precious gift to mankind. Legal abortion will make the couple take less responsibility to their lives."
The same thing goes for Buddhists. "We, Buddhists," said Phra Mahamanoj, assistant monk in Suan Kaew Temple, "in a country where the majority of the people is Buddhist, firmly disagree with legal abortion and the destruction of life. If you do not want something to happen, don't do it".
"At Suan Kaew Temple we have provided an 'emergency home' for those who are not ready to have a child. They do not have to go for an abortion. They will be provided with shelter and work, plus a nursery to enable them to stand on their own before returning home. There is no need to take a life"
Buddhists constitute 95 per cent of Thailand's 62 million people. Muslims are about 4 per cent and Christians 1 per cent, including 300,000 Catholics.