[Viewpoint] Unfair and illogical crackdown

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[Viewpoint] Unfair and illogical crackdown

The Presidential Council for Future and Vision said it will crack down on illegal abortions as a part of efforts to fight Korea’s low birthrate.

Under the current law, which has been in place since 1995, both the doctor and the mother are subject to two years’ imprisonment each. But until now, the government has turned a blind eye to those breaking the law.

A severe crackdown means both doctors and mothers will be imprisoned if they are convicted, which means I will become busy visiting my neighbors in prison. I am not a doctor or a law professional. I do not support abortion, nor do I have an intention to approach the issue from a religious point of view.

I want to speak for women, just as I have always done.

First, men should be punished for abortion. Abortion is an act preconditioned by pregnancy, and pregnancy is not something women achieve by themselves. There is always a man involved, and both mother and father should be punished.

Perhaps in law, a man who causes a pregnancy is less responsible, but the nature of the crime is more heinous for the man, who caused the unmanageable situation.

Abortion rates are highest among unmarried women. The moment a single woman gets pregnant, she will be virtually ostracized from the rest of society, whether she chooses to give birth or abort.

Abortion is a tough choice for single women since becoming a single mother means facing unbearable criticism and economic burden at the same time.

And yet, the father who causes the agony faces no consequence. He may very well repeat the act with another woman.

We are living in an era of technology. If a baby is aborted, the father can be identified through DNA testing and should be punished. Only then will men actively participate in birth control unless they are confident enough to support a child. Why do women have to bear all the responsibility?

Secondly, the government must not use women’s bodies for its own policy. If the government is punishing women for aborting children because it is concerned about their health, I could understand. However, it is a serious issue if the government has decided to punish women for abortions because other measures to boost the low birthrate have failed.

About 20 years ago, state-run health centers willingly offered abortions to women with an aim to reduce the population. Does the government really have no other means than controlling a woman’s body to cope with the population issue?

Starting next year, about 300,000 children who would have been aborted should be born under the newly proclaimed measure. Then, the country will see an abrupt growth in childbirth. Then, who knows? The state-run clinics may conduct abortions again. The government seems to have no concern for women’s health.

Third, a crackdown on abortion should only come once the country has enough preparation for sex education and welfare policy. In fact, the best way to prevent abortion is forcing men to adhere to strict birth control measures. Girls should be educated as well, so that they will not quit school if they become single mothers, whom society must be prepared to support emotionally and financially. This is crucial, because the abortion crackdown will lead to a surge in the number of single mothers next year. How will society respond?

Furthermore, women with money will travel overseas to get abortions where the practice is legal, just like they go overseas to give birth. Youngsters may even try to abort their babies themselves, just like women from our grandmothers’ generation did.

And no doubt a black market for the procedures will take root to cope with demand.

I truly wonder what the government really wants to achieve with the crackdown. Is the government doing this because it believes abortion is wrong and that we should practice stricter birth control? Or is the government so desperate to increase the population, no matter what happens?

If the answer is the former, then it is actually more sensible to punish men, because men should be responsible for birth control.

Otherwise, the crackdown on abortion makes no sense.

*The writer is the head of the Cultural Future IF Organization. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Eum Eul-soon
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