Abortion in Korea

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Submitted: May 03, 2009

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Submitted: May 03, 2009




Should abortion be allowed in law in South Korea?


Abortion is a topic of issue that has been argued for a long time in South Korea. Pro-life, which is disagreeing with abortion, and Pro-choice, which is agreeing with abortion, are still fighting for their sides, insisting on their sides with many supporting reasons. In South Korea, the abortion issue has become more apparent recently because the new president says that he agrees with abortion in the case of disabled unborn babies. The Pro-life side is in opposition to the opinion of the new president in South Korea, and they are judging his ability as president.

As you can see in the map below, South Korea still regards abortion legal only under certain circumstances such as rape, when the woman’s health is in danger and when a woman is mentally unfit.

 Legal on request  Legal for rape, maternal life, health, mental health, socioecomic factors, and/or fetal defects  Legal for or illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, fetal defects, and/or mental health  Illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, and/or mental health  Illegal with exception for maternal life, health, and/or mental health  Illegal with no exceptions  Varies by region  No information

However, according to the website http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html, the number of abortions in the world is approximately 42 Million per year and 83% of these abortions are obtained in developing countries and 17% occur in developed countries. For example, the United States, which is the strongest and most developed country in the world, abortion is allowed regardless of the reason to respect women’s choices.

Although abortion is illegal in South Korea unless it is a special case, the abortion rate is still racked on high. Why do many South Korean women still want to do abortion although it is illegal? Why does South Korea still regulate the abortion in law? The main argument point is women as well as unborn babies’ rights. Women who had abortion or plans on getting one say that they don’t have a choice to avoid it. They can’t take care of their babies due to financial issues. Unexpected pregnancies may ruin the rest of their lives as well as cause unhappiness for both the mother and infant. Countries in which abortion is illegal state that abortion is going against the unborn infant’s life and is the same as murder.

I strongly feel that abortion should become legalized in South Korea. Women’s rights should be respected as well as the choices they make, whether going through with an abortion, or not.  All people should have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. The right that people can do what they want with their body is fundamental human right. According to the article ‘Abortion’ written by Pil-Hong Hwang, the professor of Dan Kook University, from http://blog.naver.com/smijin16?Redirect=Log&logNo=20006282331, unborn babies cannot be admitted as a human. Unborn babies are only human biologically. They are not human as a moral meaning of the word because they can’t think rationally. Also, according to the website http://www.pregnantpause.org/abort/choicarg.htm, when the Supreme Court declared that all laws protecting babies in the womb were unconstitutional, they imposed their own theory of when life begins-- the theory that life begins at birth. There are some issues that cannot be neutral. In some countries it is illegal to kill an unborn baby after the first trimester meaning that they have imposed the theory that life begins thirteen weeks after gestation period begins. In other countries, it is illegal to kill any unborn baby, meaning that they have imposed the theory that life begins at conception. In the U.S. it is illegal to kill someone once they have been born. This means our country has imposed the theory that life begins at birth. Perhaps if a country had no laws at all against killing anyone, you could say that they were truly "neutral" on this subject. Legal abortion imposes the theory that life does not begin until birth (Sep.2000). Also, let’s think about the wolf boy case. Can we regard a person who was raised by wolves as a person? The boy did not have any social or rational concepts. We can’t regard this person as a human because he doesn’t know any of society’s rules, how to speak, or what it means to have morals. Based on this, unborn babies can’t be regarded as equals to their mothers and should not be treated as such. Therefore, unborn babies don’t have any of the same authorities as humans, and their rights can’t be more important than women’s rights. After collecting all factors, it is impossible to regard abortion as illegal because it violates women’s fundamental human rights. The South Korean government should respect women’s right.

Secondly, unexpected pregnancies cause pain to the mother and child. According to the website http://www.pregnantpause.org/abort/9reasons.htm ("Every child a wanted child."),if women are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, the result is an unwanted child. Everyone knows they are among society's most tragic cases, and are often uncared-for, unloved, brutalized, and abandoned. When they grow up, these children are often seriously disadvantaged, and sometimes inclined toward brutal behavior toward others. This is not good for children, for families, or for the country. Children should be born into love and families who will want to take care of them (2005). Unexpected pregnancies and deliveries could lead to negative results, such as babies and children being abandoned and many parents giving up their own authorities for their children. One of the South Korea’s nicknames is “the nation of exporting adoption.” The nickname is really shameful. Unexpected pregnancies and deliveries make both mother and child unhappy. Why do we still assert that abortion is illegal and for what reasons? I had an experience which I had volunteered in a consultation office for women when I was in high school, that I would like to write about. That time, my job was summarizing the consultation reports and putting them into the computer. About 30 percent of abortion surgery is done on unmarried women. The tough lives of them and the children who are living without the aid of a father were written down. They were especially suffering from serious financial problems as well as the social prejudices that come from being a single mom. Some of the single moms regretted their pre-decisions. What on earth is the law for and whom does it protect?

Finally, women should have the right to have surgery in a safe, clean environment. Because abortion is illegal in Korea, the abortions are performed in dangerous environments and women sometimes suffer from dangerous side effects as a result of these surgeries. According to Dr. Shin, a doctor I interviewed from ‘Ah Ruem Da Woon (the Korean word for beautiful) obstetrics and gynecology,’ many doctors avoid performing abortions because they have a chance of losing their practitioner’s licenses for it. However, Korea’s abortion rate is the highest among OECD countries. This means that many pregnant women have been operated on by unqualified doctors in dangerous and unsafe environments. According to the article http://media.daum.net/society/affair/view.html?cateid=1010&newsid=20061031092007843&p=kukminilbo, an eighteen year old girl died while she was being operated on by an unqualified doctor. After she had sex with her boyfriend, she got an unexpected pregnancy. She had saved her money and she paid nine hundred dollars for an abortion because without a special case, like rape or mental illness, abortion would have been illegal in South Korea. She was also worried about her parents and social prejudices so she was forced to find someone who could perform an abortion in a dangerous and hidden place. As you can see in this article, many women are getting abortions in dangerous places even though they know they can be in danger or even die. What did women do to deserve this? Is it just because they are women? It is too immoral and cruel for women. Therefore, South Korea government should make abortion legal.

Abortion is a serious topic to discuss and argue. Also, we can’t honestly say that abortion is completely right and moral. We should think about how women have a hard time in making decisions about whether or not they should get an abortion. Women should not suffer from pregnancies, and also they should be respected. Women should have the authority to do anything with their bodies and the rights of an unborn child should not be above that of the mother’s because unborn babies are not regarded as human. If we had to choose whose rights should be more important, it should be the mother’s. I would also like to say that delivering babies legally is the best way for everybody. That is the real way to respect an unborn baby’s rights and is also the best way to keep the act of delivery moral. A legal abortion or delivery is better than forcing a birth on an unfit mother. What if a woman is unable to take care of her baby and she is already suffering from all sorts of misfortune/poverty? All people should have the right to pursue their own happiness. Governments should respect these rights if they are not going to be responsible and take care of whole lives for women and babies. Anyhow, abortion is going to keep happening. Is it better to let women have abortion surgeries in safe environments by qualified doctors or to let women suffer from the side effects of abortion surgeries by unqualified doctors and practitioners?

Abortion should be legal. Women should have the protection of the government. South Korea’s government has to consider this. At last, I have a question for pro-choice. Why do you disagree with abortion? Is that for you, for unborn babies, for women, or for men?






















(Written by Pil-Hong Hwang, the professor of Dan Kook University)


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