Obstetrics hospitals reported for abortions

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Obstetrics hospitals reported for abortions

Fellow obstetricians have reported three obstetrics hospitals to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for allegedly conducting illegal abortions.

Pro-Life Doctors, a group composed of obstetricians who oppose abortion, said that it reported the hospitals which it considers “serious cases” after sifting through 60 reports at the group’s information center.

Under Korean law, abortion is only allowed under special circumstances, including pregnancy by rape and for mothers who are found to have a contagious disease or are mentally and/or physically unstable.

Illegal abortions can be punished with up to two years imprisonment for both the doctor and patient. Even so, abortions are frequently performed in local hospitals and the government has turned a blind eye to the practice, the group said.

“After the government announced a stricter ban on abortion last October we were waiting for it to take effect, but there has been no real government policy that has worked,” said Shim Sang-duk, head of the pro-life group. “We decided to report cases ourselves as a gesture of complaint against the government.”

Jang Suk-ik, vice chairman of the Korean Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, slammed the action. “If this kind of reckless reporting on doctors who perform abortions continues while there’s no real alternative to abortion, it can lead to abortion being criminalized altogether or being conducted in more unlawful ways,” he said.

According to the latest data from the Health Ministry, around 350,000 abortions are carried out each year. The ministry said that about 450,000 babies are born every year.

By Cho Jae-eun, Lee Hyun-taek [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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