South Korea – Debate on abortion ban intensifies as decision looms

Debate on abortion ban intensifies as decision looms

by Ock Hyun-ju
Published : Mar 31, 2019

When Hong Seung-hee, 28, discovered she was pregnant, she felt her world was falling apart.

She decided to terminate the unwanted pregnancy, even though it meant she would have to live as a criminal.

Going through an abortion was painful enough, but the stigma was worse, she said.


South Korea – Abortion crackdown leaves women on edge

Abortion crackdown leaves women on edge

Posted : 2018-09-02
By Lee Suh-yoon

Women's health is being placed at greater risk in the recent row between the government and OB-GYN doctors over a new regulation that suspends medical licenses for performing abortions — explicitly branding the procedure as "immoral."

On Aug. 17, some 2,500 OB-GYN doctors in the country announced they would boycott all abortions, signaling a new low point in the growing discontent at the nation's 65-year-old abortion ban.


Push to End South Korea Abortion Ban Gains Strength, and Signatures

Push to End South Korea Abortion Ban Gains Strength, and Signatures
JAN. 13, 2018

SEOUL, South Korea — Lee Na-yeon was 18 years old and in her first semester in college when she discovered, to her dismay, that she was pregnant.

Ms. Lee went to a hospital and had an abortion. But as a graduate of a Catholic high school where she had been shown graphic videos portraying abortion as murder, she felt scared and tormented by guilt. She had also broken the law.

Abortion is illegal in South Korea with just a few exceptions, such as when a woman has been raped or her health is at risk. It is one of just a handful of the world’s richest countries to have such restrictive abortion laws. Women can be sentenced to a year in prison or ordered to pay fines of two million won (about $1,840) for having abortions, while doctors who perform them can get up to two years in prison.

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Taboo No More? Abortion in South Korea

Taboo No More? Abortion in South Korea
Responding to a public petition, the Moon administration will take a close look at the current abortion ban.

By Clint Work
December 09, 2017

In August, the Moon administration announced it would publicly respond to any petition posted to the Blue House website that received more than 200,000 signatures. On September 30, a petition emerged calling for the decriminalization of abortion and legalization of abortion pills, based on a woman’s right to her own body. By late October, the petition surpassed the threshold required for public comment, and (as of this writing) has received a total of 235,372 signatures. In a video posted November 26, Blue House Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk offered the government’s response.

Cho said the government would conduct a fact-finding study next year to accurately determine the status of abortion in South Korea, gather public opinion data on the issue, and examine the reasons behind the criminal ban on the practice. The last such study, conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, occurred in 2010. Although previously carried out at five-year intervals, the funds apparently were unavailable in 2015 under the administration of Park Geun-hye.

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A campaign to legalise abortion is gaining ground in South Korea

A campaign to legalise abortion is gaining ground in South Korea

But politicians are ducking the issue
Nov 9th 2017

WHEN So-yeong, a pupil in secondary school, found out she was pregnant in January, she was at a loss. She knew abortion was illegal, and that she could be sent to jail for a year for getting one (doctors providing them risk two years behind bars). But she also knew that she could not keep the baby if she wanted to continue her education. Eventually she told her parents. Her mother arranged for a surreptitious abortion at a hospital, paying in cash. So-yeong (she asked that her real name not be used) tried to return to school in March “with a heavy heart”, only to find out that she was being expelled for “setting a bad example” to her peers.

In September a petition appeared on a government website, calling on the government of Moon Jae-in, the president (and the first liberal to hold the office in ten years), to amend the law.

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