Confusion Looms over Abortion Despite Legalization | Be Korea-savvy

Confusion Looms over Abortion Despite Legalization

Activists demand the abolishment of anti-abortion laws in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Oct. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

Activists demand the abolishment of anti-abortion laws in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Oct. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Korea Bizwire)Legal provisions that used to forbid abortion have been ruled as unconstitutional, being effectively repealed with the start of the new year.

The lack of legislative supplements, however, is causing some confusion among women.

The fact that punitive measures against abortion have been repealed is not enough to ensure that hospitals will now feel free to offer abortions.

Abortions can be denied to women as hospitals are currently objecting to selective abortions.

The Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology released directives last year to carry out unconditional abortions only for pregnancies less than 10 weeks old.

The directives ban abortion for pregnancies over 22 weeks, since the fetus becomes capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb at that point.

These directives are stricter than the revised bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice last October, which allowed unconditional abortion for women less than 14 weeks into pregnancy, and conditional abortion for those between 15 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Not all hospitals carry out unconditional abortions, even if the woman is in less than 10 weeks into her pregnancy. If a doctor refuses to carry out an abortion based on their personal beliefs, the individual may have to try a different hospital.

With the penal measures repealed, both surgical and medical abortion have now become possible.

Until now, women have been purchasing Mifegyne and other drugs for medical abortion through unofficial channels, like buying them directly from foreign sellers.

These drugs have yet to become legal in South Korea as they need to be approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

They aren’t expected to become available in the country soon since there are currently no pharmaceutical companies that have requested approval for importing these medicines.

Without legislative supplements to fill the gap of ensuring abortion, the confusion is expected to drag on.

H. M. Kang (

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