Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Korea rejecting legal abortion?

14 January 2010 | Michael Cook

Repentant doctorsFor perhaps the first time, South Korea is debating abortion, to the great discomfiture of its gynaecologists. Unlike the US and other Western countries, abortion has not been framed as a moral issue in Korea, despite the growing number of Christians. And with a vigorous government campaign to reduce the birth rate, the number of abortions annually is about 340,000. Yet paradoxically, nearly all of them are technically illegal. Abortion is only permitted when the mother’s health is in serious danger, or in cases of rape, incest or severe hereditary disorders. All abortion over 24 weeks are illegal.

The problem is that the government’s campaign has been too successful. Liberal attitudes towards abortion have helped the South Korean birth rate to plunge to 1.19 children per woman. Now the government is desperate to boost it, lest the rapidly ageing population drag down the economy. President Lee Myung-bak has called for "bold" steps to increase the nation’s birthrate. Amongst these, apparently, is a crack-down on illegal abortions. Full article.

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