Women Can Now Get Abortions Without Spousal Consent 「優生保健法」將大修 改稱「生育保健法」

In the near future, women in Taiwan might no longer need consent from their spouses before getting an abortion. If passed, this will be the first major change for the Genetic Health Act in 12 years.

Important changes are underway for the Genetic Health Act. Last week, the Health Promotion Administration invited experts for a discussion. In the future, to respect the autonomy of women, married women will no longer need spousal consent before they can get an abortion.

Voice of Tsai Wei-yi, Dep. Director, Maternal and Child Health Division, HPA: “We hope we can reach a more unanimous view through communication or explanation on international trends and methods.”

Under the current act, when pregnancy or childbirth is likely to affect a married woman's mental health or family life, induced abortion shall be subject to her husband's consent. In the future Reproductive Health Act, married women wishing to get an abortion won't need spousal consent. The advance notice of the amended act will be posted in January at the earliest.

Huang Min-chao, Chair, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics & Gynecology: “In the 2000s, there was a case in Kaohsiung where a woman terminated her pregnancy without getting the consent of her husband. Finally, the judge ruled her innocent, using principles from laws on women's physical autonomy. I think this case showed us that what is most important is the autonomy of women.”

Under the current act, unmarried minors seeking abortions must get the consent of their statutory agent or assistant. The amended act stipulates that unmarried minors seeking abortions against the advice of their statutory agents or assistants must undergo a "consultation." Women's organizations say a comprehensive set of measures is needed.

Tan Yu-jung, Secretary-General, Awakening Foundation: “The Gender Equity Education Act requires an educational setup that includes sex education. If a minor has an unplanned pregnancy even after receiving sex education, then we hope the design of the Health Promotion Administration system can be very careful, not just a simple consultation to get it out of the way. It must include the sex education and also the support offered by the social welfare system.”

These groups say the key to these "consultations" is whether the government will provide sufficient social welfare resources and sufficient information to the involved parties. If it's aiming to allow the involved party to make her own decision but the consultation is designed to give more importance to parents' opinions without considering the minor's opinions, then it will lose meaning.