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Making Amends for Wrongdoing: Thai Women Coping with Pregnancy Termination

Doctoral student Paradee Prasertwong, along with Chiang Mai University faculty members Associate Professor Dr. Kasara Sripichyakan, Associate Professor Dr. Jantararat Chareonsanti, and Associate Professor Dr. Pimpaporn Klunklin, published the article “Making Amends for Wrongdoing: Thai Women Coping with Pregnancy Termination” in the April-June 2021 issue of the Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research. Although Thailand has recently amended its abortion laws, pregnancy termination remains a cultural and social taboo, and some women have experienced complications resulting from their abortions. Women are affected in multiple ways, and this study investigated how they coped with these effects.  

The study also addresses a gap in the literature, as there are few if any studies that deeply explore the experiences of women in these circumstances. However, quantitative studies have, indeed, highlighted both the estimates of true abortion numbers in the country, as well as the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with unsafe abortions. In this study, special considerations were necessary, both in choosing participants while ensuring no legal ramifications due to non-medical reasons for abortion, and regarding sensitivity and emotional support due to the nature of the topic.  

A narrative analysis approach relied on in-depth interviews to achieve a literal as well as a symbolic understanding of women’s experiences. Next, the researchers collated the themes uncovered across the interviews. Naturally, this type of research yields rich data, and from this data pool, three themes emerged: the suffering women had been through, feelings of wrongdoing leading to the need to make amends, and expectations of support.  

Participants demonstrated their suffering through feelings which included guilt, sadness, shame, and anxiety. They exhibited responsibility and acceptance of their perceived mistakes, yet they also showed that support was required, if not always forthcoming. Family members, such as mothers, sisters, and aunts, and religious beliefs provided modes of support, but women also indicated that other forms would be accepted, such as from a partner or even from mental health services. 

This study revealed that the women in this population do retain capacity for coping and dealing with their situations; yet, the lack of appropriate mental health services was also apparent. Further research is necessary, with the researchers cautioning that extra time is needed when recruiting participants. Hopefully future studies can investigate how to increase support from partners and how to connect women undergoing abortions with appropriate mental health care services. Through better understanding and information, hopefully the stigma of abortion can be lessened in Thai society. 

Read more: https://he02.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/PRIJNR/article/view/241189

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