You Can Buy Abortion Pills Online In M’sia – But Is It Legal?
The number of baby-dumping cases in this country alone is alarming – and that’s only the reported cases. When a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, the man is never in the picture. If he’s responsible and owns up that it’s his child, then it’s great. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and irresponsible men often abandon the mother and child.
If it's consensual sex between couples, and suddenly the lady got pregnant.. some men would take responsibility, that's admirable, great.
— ThⒶt Stupid Bitch (@terrynuriman) April 13, 2019
It gets even worse when a woman is pregnant due to rape. Nobody wants to be tied to someone who violated them. Plus, it’s not always financially viable to raise a child, especially when you’re young or still in school. Since the woman is the one who is pregnant, she faces the burden of being judged and shamed, especially as her pregnancy becomes more visible.
So, when a woman experiences an unwanted pregnancy, what does she do? Apparently, you can buy abortion pills online in Malaysia. Some pharmacies may prescribe them, but these pills are not regulated by the Ministry of Health for the purpose of abortion itself.
What are abortion pills?
The abortion pill available in Malaysia is Misoprostol, listed under the trade name Cytotec. Cytotec is approved by the Ministry of Health to treat gastric ulcers, but not to terminate pregnancies. Another pill called Mifepristone is often paired with Misoprostol to induce abortion, but the former is not approved by the MoH. Hence, it’s actually illegal for you to purchase these pills online for the purpose of abortion. Only doctors may prescribe these pills for medical abortions.
In the US, the pills are FDA-approved as a medical option for abortion. Basically, the FDA approved of their function, but didn’t agree that they’d be sold online, which is technically now, like the black market. Yet, people manage to smuggle and sell them anyway, because there is a demand for the pills. Abortion pills are usually prescribed for pregnancies below 9 weeks. After the 9-week period, medical procedures to terminate pregnancies are performed in clinics or at hospitals.
Is abortion legal in Malaysia?
Despite the public perception that abortion in Malaysia is illegal – there are certain circumstances that allows a woman to legally terminate her pregnancy. Section 315 of the Penal Code states that pregnancy can be terminated by a medical professional if the pregnancy puts the woman’s life at risk, or if the pregnancy threatens to harm her physically, and causes extreme distress to her mental health. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia (FRHAM) clinics provide safe abortion care for women in need, within these 3 legal circumstances.
However, if the abortion is not performed within these 3 circumstances, the woman may face imprisonment up to 7 years, while the medical practitioner may face up to 3 years in jail, and a fine.
The case of back alley abortions
According to a survey conducted by the Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM), 38% of doctors and nurses said that women who are pregnant due to rape should continue the pregnancy and look after the baby, or give it up for adoption, rather than consider abortion. In this case, there’s no way the woman was at fault. Yet, even medical practitioners lack empathy towards women who were violated.
Consequently, women will seek ways to abort the fetuses themselves. The blood loss and trauma of having purposely miscarried would threaten the life of the woman. A recent report confirmed that five women died after consuming abortion pills they bought online.
“All of the cases involved the intravaginal insertion of products containing misoprostol.” – Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, Health Minister.
In recent news, South Korea lifted a 66-year-old ban on abortion
Just last week, the South Korean government decriminalized abortion, stating that the ban violates women’s rights to access safe and timely healthcare procedures, and limits a woman’s rights to pursue her own destiny. When the official ruling was announced, women of all ages, including teenagers, celebrated with joy in front of the Constitutional Court in Seoul.
Under the ban, South Korean women who underwent an abortion could face up to a year in jail, and a fine. Doctors who performed the procedure could face up to two years in prison. At it’s peak, the ban prevented women from access to safe abortions, but didn’t prevent abortions entirely.
“Today’s decision was made because countless women ceaselessly fought for their rights for so many years.” – Bae Bok-ju, activist.
Abortion pills, although not regulated, provide a medical alternative for women to terminate their unwanted pregnancies. Ultimately, it is up to the woman whether she wants to carry her child to term or not. When termination of pregnancy is legal, it prevents back-alley abortions and creates a safe space for women to seek the medical treatment and counselling they need. A community made of punishment and judgement will only push women further into secrecy and shame. When we build a community of compassion and love, women will feel that it’s safe to seek help, and perhaps even alternatives besides abortion.
Share your story with us
Meanwhile, if you’ve ever had an abortion, please know that it’s not your fault. If you need someone to speak to or a platform to share your story, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) invites you to share your experience. Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) is an organization that promotes women’s access to comprehensive and safe abortion care in Asia. Even when abortion is restricted, it is never illegal to talk about it. Your responses are completely anonymous, and they may appear in the forms of illustration and artwork.