Symbolic Violence during Unwanted Pregnancy Counseling Process: A Case Study of a Border Hospital

  • อภิรดา ชะเอมจันทร์
Keywords: Abortion, Medical Service, Symbolic Violence


Unwanted pregnancy is one of the main problems of reproductive health among poor Burmese women on the Thai-Myanmar border area. Most of unwanted pregnancy women are unable to access pregnancy options counselling process or safe abortion service, Burmese are therefore forced to seek unsafe methods of abortion which affect their health outcomes. This paper aims to analyze symbolic violence experienced by a case study of undocumented Burmese women who sought safe abortion counselling in a Thai border hospital.

Based on in-depth interviews with case study and key informants about their experiences at counseling clinic when seeking help, this study shows that the doctors’ decisions on providing abortion service were not base on medical evaluation but on their personal moral ideas about what is right and wrong. It is argued that in this context women are not given the autonomy over their bodies in the process of decision-making during counseling with the doctor. Although the clinic is based on patient-centered counseling, women experience themselves as being blamed and stigmatized by doctors. In this paper, it is argued that this approach to Burmese pregnant women can be seen as a form of symbolic violence which can lead desperate women to opt for unsafe abortion that can lead to physical violence being perpetrated against them.

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