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Most South Korean women oppose criminalization of abortion

By
Elizabeth Shim
Members of a pro-choice civic body rally in front of the Constitutional Court in Seoul last May. Their signs read it is unconstitutional to criminalize abortion in the country. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
Members of a pro-choice civic body rally in front of the Constitutional Court in Seoul last May. Their signs read it is "unconstitutional" to criminalize abortion in the country. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Eight out of 10 South Korean women who were surveyed in a government poll say abortion should not be criminalized.

As South Korea's Constitutional Court considers removing restrictions on abortion in the country, an overwhelming majority of women between the ages of 15 and 44 say they disagree with laws that stipulate abortion, in some cases, amounts to a crime, Seoul Shinmun reported Thursday.

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Abortions in the South are illegal unless there are "extenuating circumstances" that apply to cases of serious health risks to the mother, or pregnancies that result from statutory rape or incest, according to Yonhap.

Abortions are not allowed in cases of economic hardship in South Korea, setting the country apart from the majority of developed nations in the OECD, where socioeconomic reasons are sufficient for a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

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Nearly half of the respondents to the South Korean survey said the country's Mother and Child Law needs to be amended to include social and economic reasons for abortion.

Abortion laws may be not be tightly enforced in South Korea, however.

A survey of the women showed that, among those in the group who have had abortions, about one-third of respondents terminated a pregnancy because of "school or work," and another third said they terminated a pregnancy for financial reasons. About 10 percent of those who have had abortions said they underwent the procedure because of "rape or semi-rape."

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Of the 10,000 women surveyed, only 756 women said they have had abortions.

The number of abortions is also significantly down, the report said.

The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted the survey in September and October of 2018.

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The report also shows more South Korea women are using birth control. A separate survey of men showed condom use was up to 74.2 percent, an increase from 37.5 percent in 2011.

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