Groups want ways to curb abortions

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Groups want ways to curb abortions

Preventing abortion is the key to handling the controversy surrounding Korea’s illegal abortion regulations, said some of the nation’s key civic, religious and medical organizations yesterday during a forum hosted by the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. The groups met to create a consultative group on preventing illegal abortions under the ministry’s guidance.

“Abortion is an issue on which people have strong, opposing views, so it needs to be discussed thoroughly with enough time,” said Health and Welfare Minister Jeon Jae-hee. “An organization composed of social groups must be created to raise awareness of this issue and discuss social support measures.” Participating groups included Korea Pro-Life, Aeranwon and the Korean Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Earlier this month, Pro-Life Doctors, a group of anti-abortion obstetricians, reported three obstetrics hospitals to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for allegedly conducting illegal abortions. Korean law states that abortion is only allowed under special circumstances, including pregnancy by rape and for diseased or mentally ill mothers.

Illegal abortions can be punished by prison sentences of up to two years for both doctors and patients.

Participants agreed that illegal abortions are not just a personal problem for individuals but a “joint responsibility for our society” and that they would launch the new social organization within a month to prevent abortions, according to the ministry’s official release yesterday.

During the forum, figures from the medical field said that sex education to prevent unwanted pregnancies is crucial, the ministry said.

The ministry added that those civic group members emphasized the need to increase support for unwed mothers while the religious sector suggested increasing counseling centers for women who face abortion problems.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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