The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) is drafting an amendment to remove the requirement for married women to obtain permission from their partner before having an abortion, which it hopes to present by March, it said on Wednesday.
Under Article 9 of the Genetic Health Act (優生保健法), induced abortion by a married woman “shall be subject to her husband’s consent unless her husband is missing, unconscious or deranged.”
A petition calling for the removal of the provision was on Wednesday last week launched on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform, where it had already received more than 7,400 signatures as of yesterday.
A woman’s right to bodily autonomy should not be affected by her marital status, the petition says, adding that the risks and consequences of abortion are the woman’s to bear, and therefore should not be decided by anyone else.
Supporters of the law left comments online saying that the decision to have a child should be decided by both spouses, as marriage is a partnership.
HPA Maternal and Child Health Division senior technical specialist Chen Li-chuan (陳麗娟) told the Central News Agency that the issue has long been a topic of public debate.
In 2006, the agency wanted to change the wording in the provision from “agree” to “inform,” but after three revisions it still failed to pass, she said.
After the Executive Yuan on Jan. 1, 2012, promulgated an enforcement act for the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, it instructed the HPA to change the clause, as it contravened the convention, she added.
After years of collecting opinions, including a clause-by-clause consultation held last month, Chen said that the agency has decided to remove the clause requiring a partner’s consent.
It also plans to rename the act to the “reproductive health act” to remove the original title’s discriminatory connotations, the agency said.
The HPA is to further consolidate its gathered recommendations and hopes to complete a draft amendment by March, Chen added.
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