Thailand health officials, on 6 October, stated that it will loosen its strict rules against abortion cases related to Zika virus. Thailand, last week, recorded its first known cases of microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne virus.
Health experts, who met to draft guidelines for expectant mothers afflicted with Zika, concurred that abortions can be carried out up to 24 weeks in Zika-related cases.
An international news agency quoted Pisek Lumpikanon, president of the Royal Thai college of Obstetric and Gynaecologists, as saying, "The difficulty with Zika is to determine microcephaly. It is usually found later in pregnancy. Legal medical abortions can be done up to 24 weeks. The reason is that at 24 weeks and after the baby already has a good chance of survival."
Except in cases of rape or danger to mother's life, abortion is illegal in Thailand. There are no specific tests to determine if a baby will be born with microcephaly but ultrasound scans can identify it in the third trimester of pregnancy, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. Thailand has said it is considering testing all pregnant women for Zika.
Thailand has confirmed 392 cases of Zika since January, with 39 pregnant women among them, while the wealthy city-state of Singapore has recorded 393 cases, including 16 pregnant women.