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Abortion - Law and Practice

Abortion - Law and Practice

Technically abortions in Korea are illegal albeit very common, until very recently. The Mother and Child Health Law allows for abortions only when the mother’s health is in serious danger, or in cases of rape, incest or severe hereditary disorders. It is never legal after the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A June 2010 Korea Times articles states that “based on insurance data and a government-sponsored study, academic researchers have concluded that those exceptions applied to only about 4 percent of an estimated 340,000 abortions performed in 2005. But that year, only one case of illegal abortion - which, on paper, is punishable by up to a year in prison for the woman and two for the doctor - went to court, according to data that prosecutors submitted to Parliament in October.”

Abortion has not been the hot button issue in Korea that it has been in other countries. But recently, in large part due to Korea’s declining birth rate and rising Christian population, families are being offered incentives to have more children, unmarried mothers are receiving a monthly stipend and the government is starting to crackdown on ‘illegal’ abortions.

In response to the increase in enforcement of the law, an attempt was made to change the 59-yearold law (adopted in 1953). However, in August 2012, Korea’s Constitutional Court failed to get the six votes required to overturn it with four of the eight judges voting for to maintain the rule and the four others voting for change.

Image Source and explanation: A woman who stands in front of an unauthorized abortion clinic appears to be at a loss. Hanging on a wall outside the clinic, a signboard reads, “This clinic is unauthorized, so we will not take responsibility for any errors or complications that may arise.”
Behind her, a placard announces the crackdown on abortion, while a banner on the wall of an authorized hospital reads, “Fees for abortions will increase to 3 million Won ($2,634 USD).”
Behind her, a newborn child is abandoned in front of a house. (Hankyoreh Geurimpan, Mar. 6, 2010) 

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.


Last Updated on 2021-12-12

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