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‘97 % of abortions caused by socioeconomic problems’
  • By Lee Min-ju
  • Published 2018.07.06 16:40
  • Updated 2018.07.06 16:42
  • comments 0

An obstetrics and gynecology physician said Korea should legalize abortion and guarantee women’s health rights by widening abortion choices such as approving an abortion pill.

She claimed that the current law banning the artificial termination of pregnancy fails to reflect reality.

Yoon Jeong-won, women affairs head of the Association of Physicians for Humanism, speaks during a debate titled “From Illegal Abortion to Reproductive Health” at the National Assembly Thursday.

Yoon Jeong-won, women affairs head of the Association of Physicians for Humanism, made the assertion at a debate titled “From Illegal Abortion to Reproductive Health” at the National Assembly on Thursday.

Korea prohibits ending pregnancy based on the Criminal Act. However, the Mother and Child Health Act gives limited permission to abort the fetus within 24 weeks in only several cases including the one where she or her spouse suffers from a genetic disease.

However, recent studies have revealed that most abortions occurred due to socioeconomic reasons.

According to the Korean Women’s Development Institute’s survey this year on “Women’s perception of pregnancy discontinuation and their experiences,” 41.9 percent of the people who have experienced pregnancy had an abortion. Only 2.9 percent of them had the lawful reason for abortion.

The rest of 97.1 percent had illegal reasons. Among them, 29.7 percent said they gave up on carrying the fetus because they were not economically ready. Another 20.2 percent said they had to continue study or work.

“Four out of 10 had an abortion and 97 percent of them have to be stigmatized as a lawbreaker,” Yoon said. “This shows how the abortion-banning law is far from reflecting the reality. Don’t you lawmakers think we should revise the law?”

Yoon pointed out that making abortion illegal creates an environment where safe abortions cannot take place, which exacerbates the breaching of the women’s rights to health and their socioeconomic problems.

The World Health Organization does not recommend curettage procedures for abortion, but 46.6 percent of abortions involved curettage in Korea, according to a report released in 2005.

Yoon noted that socially vulnerable people such as low-income earners and teenagers take riskier choices or give unwanted childbirth, which further lowers their social and economic status.

“Thus, the nation should legalize abortion and enhance the healthcare system to guarantee women’s rights to health,” she said.

Yoon also claimed that Korea should introduce medication to bring about abortion, already used in many other countries.

Mifepristone, an abortion pill, was listed on the WHO’s essential drugs in 2005. A total of 67 countries approved the drug. The pill’s abortion success rate is 98-100 percent within eight weeks and 96-100 percent between eight and nine weeks.

Yoon said even when pregnant women can legally receive an abortion procedure, their choices are limited to surgery. “Aside from the issue of legalizing abortion, we should consider introducing the abortion pill,” she said.

“Some say if we create a pregnancy-friendly and childbirth-friendly environment, we can prevent abortions. However, legalizing abortion and improving an environment are two separate issues,” Yoon went on to say. “We should discuss how abortions can be safely done.”


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