By Park Si-soo
An association representing thousands of obstetricians running their own clinics recently issued a statement backing the calls by pro-women rights activists that pregnant women have the exclusive right to determine whether to have an abortion.
This has fueled the ongoing debate in the medical sector over the issue, which was ignited last month after a pro-life doctors' group filed a criminal complaint against their peers at hospitals over illegal terminations.
"It's the exclusive right of women to decide whether to have a baby or to have an abortion," the Korea Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in the statement. It stressed it's undesirable to put pressure on pregnant women to deliver babies with the social atmosphere and infrastructure for childcare remaining rudimentary.
"We have had no choice but to help pregnant women abort their fetus at our own risk of being punished because it's for
Dr. Ahn Hyun-ok, secretary general of the association, told The Korea Times that the current policy on abortion should be ultimately amended in such a way as to empower pregnant women to decide whether or not to have the procedure.
Well, there you have it, since 1973 when laws permitted abortions for medical illness affecting the fetus, threatening the health of the woman, pregnancy due to rape or incest, and birth defects, all gave a "Loophole" for so called legal abortions. See the Law does not recognize the right of a woman to have Pro-Choice per se. But the practice was done, with a wink and a nod, with only two known cases brought to court.
Rather than say the truth even the doctors use the term "sake of women's health", PLEASE! Doctor, tell it like it is! It is so a woman can "have the procedure" to "terminate an unwanted Pregnancy". Let's be real here. The current policy is however threatened by the Pro-Life doctors with repercussions already affecting the women seeking the procedure.
Fundamental Remedy Needed to Reduce Fetal Homicide
Korea's birthrate is almost the lowest in the world, while its proportion of abortion by fertile women is nearly the highest. The government's policy package to prevent illegal artificial abortions announced Monday shows its agony to resolve the seemingly contrasting but actually common problems ― and how difficult the task would be.
The package calls for, among other things, toughening penalties for obstetricians performing illegal abortions and increasing subsidies for young single parents.
Unlike its title, however, the ``comprehensive" measures are at best ostensible and fragmentary steps, which cannot alter the underlying environment where intentional miscarriage of fetuses is still better than delivering and raising babies, especially for unwed mothers. How many youngsters, for instance, would opt to become single parents lured by the monthly subsidy of 100,000 won until they become 24?
At its worst, the administrative crackdown on abortion doctors will be costlier and more dangerous, forcing women with unwanted pregnancy to go abroad if they are rich, and to unlicensed practitioners if they are poor, risking greater health hazards.
What the nation should tackle first in this regard is to rectify the glaring disparity between a too strict legal system and actual practices ― or between ideals and reality. The Mother and Child Health Law permits abortions in only five cases, including rape, incest, hereditary disorders and when the mother's health is in serious danger, resulting in the fact that less than 5 percent of about 350,000 abortions a year are legal.
(Korean Pro-Life Doctors claim according to their figures the abortion numbers are 4,000 per DAY, totally 1.46 million per year because of the prescriptions used.)
Above all, the time has long passed for Koreans to change their millennia-old bias against single mothers with ``fatherless child," which, when coupled with their excessive adherence to blood ties, also brought about the ignoble title of ``baby exporter" on Korea even at a time when this country has become the world's 14th largest economy.
Once again silly people, It IS NOT ABOUT THE ECONOMY-It’s the language of Blood, Blood ties are still important and adoption is considered SHAMEFUL. The recent killer of a 13 year old girl was ADOPTED!! The stories that will bring up, worse than the movie “Adopted” caused quite a stir over here.
Also required would be a change in the time-old patriarchal environment that discriminates against women, single or married, with or without children.
More realistically, any government policy to reduce abortions and raise the birthrate must start with a drastic increase in financial support for women with children, not just because it is helpful for economic growth but because it makes the Korean society more worthwhile to live in.
Here here! This writer seems to get it! But the government policy has already caused problems with women TURNED away from high class hospitals, and the stinking clinics have more than tripled fees, from $300 dollars up to $1,000 dollars and up to $2,000 just because of the sudden policy to increase BIRTH RATE.
South Korean Women caught in Limbo
SEOUL, South Korea — Having a third child wasn't in Mrs. Kim's plans. She and her husband are already struggling to get by.
But getting an abortion, once so routine here that South Korea was known as "Abortion Republic," is no longer easy. In recent weeks, the government has begun enforcing a long-ignored ban on the procedure for the first time.
It took Mrs. Kim 10 tries to find a doctor willing to perform an abortion, and he's demanding nearly $1,000 in cash. South Korea outlawed abortion in 1953 with exceptions for rape, incest or severe genetic disorders, or threat to a mother’s health. Yet authorities turned a blind eye for decades, as the nation sought to tame population growth. BEFORE for $300, women could get an abortion at almost any OB-GYN clinic. These doctors make more by KILLING than delivering. "For the love of Money"...the root of all evil.
That changed earlier this year, a shift that pro-choice activists say was motivated by the country's plunging birthrate. The Ministry of Health and Welfare even announced it would set up a hot line for citizens to report on law-breaking doctors or pregnant women.
I am not making this up. I TOLD YOU SO that Korea suddenly does something, like a “hot line for citizens to report” and MAKE MONEY by doing so. Don’t Believe me? They do it all the time for traffic violations, photographers fought each other for best locations with 50% of the fine going into every photo of cars making illegal U-turns. When it got too ugly they stopped it, or lost too much money. Think they put up traffic cameras instead.
Last month, a woman gave birth and suffocated her newborn to death in a motel room, Seoul police said. "In the current social mood against abortions, I knew that I could get arrested trying to get one, but also that I couldn't afford one anyway because prices have risen so much," the woman said, according to a police statement.
The procedure was seen for years as a way to help curb high fertility rates, sociologist Cho Byong-hee said.
"The government aggressively propagated the notion that having fewer kids would lead to prosperity, without any public debates or discussions over the ethics of abortion," said Cho, a professor at Seoul National University.
Birth control is still a taboo in South Korea, a society shaped by a Confucian heritage that prizes chastity. Lack of education on birth control means too many unplanned pregnancies, said women's rights activist Kim Doo-na.
The stigma of being a single mother in a society that treats them as outcasts pushes many to abortion when they do fall pregnant, she said.
Concerned about the low birthrate, President Lee Myung-bak's administration set up a task force in November to encourage childbirth, enacting tax breaks, subsidies for medical fees and childrearing expenses and steps to improve childcare.
The government also made clear the ban on abortion would be strictly enforced, though denying any connection to the effort to raise the birthrate.
As she sacrifices sleep to save up for her abortion, Mrs. Kim says she is trying to safeguard her family's well-being by terminating the pregnancy.
"Our current income is just enough to feed four and educate the two," she said. "Activists and policymakers can debate all they want, but I'm the one sweeping floors to kill my baby."