.- Despite South Korea’s prohibition on abortion, some 350,000 abortions still take place annually. Now a group of obstetricians is working to enforce the law, even if the former abortionists among their membership must implicate themselves in their own illegal acts. The number of abortions in South Korea is only 100,000 fewer than the 450,000 babies usually born each year.
The Korean group of obstetricians called Gynob has launched a movement against abortion, Joon Ang Daily reports. Their spokeswoman, practicing obstetrician Choi Anna, said she intends to advocate against abortion until the practice is entirely wiped out though she has reportedly received death threats from other private obstetricians who say her activities are bad for business.
“Our group has made it clear that we as obstetricians won’t rely on abortion for a living anymore,” Anna said.
The 43-year-old Anna admits to having once profited from abortions at her hospital. She told the Joon Ang Daily that Korean society’s tacit consent to abortion has prompted many obstetricians to secretly provide the procedure.
“The country is now suffering from a low birthrate,” Anna said, attributing it to a past population control policy that encouraged abortion. “The government seems to be reluctant now to clamp down. But we believe when doctors halt abortions, births could increase by more than 100,000 in one to two years.
“If this movement becomes successful, obstetricians won’t have to provide abortions for a living,” she added.
Gynob is planning to send questionnaires on abortion to all government institutions, including the presidential Blue House, and to related research centers.
If the Health Ministry does not launch an investigation into the conducting of abortions for profit, Anna said, her group will try to have the ministry indicted for neglecting its duties.
Members of Gynob are considering implicating themselves for illegal abortions because abortion has a five-year statute of limitation.
“My fellow doctor Shim Sang-deok says our movement may bear fruit after he is imprisoned,” Anna said.
Many practicing obstetricians provide abortions because they are profitable, while delivering babies and providing gynecological treatment are not big moneymakers, Anna explained.
“Doctors performing abortions say they are ashamed to tell their families what they do,” she told the Joon Ang Daily. “When I opened my hospital seven years ago, I wanted to treat patients suffering from sterility, my expertise, but a major portion of my patients were those wanting abortions. I washed my hands countless times after abortion surgeries.”
She said abortion is the “easiest choice” for pregnant Korean women regardless of their wealth, religion or education.
“But post-abortion trauma is gigantic,” Anna added.
Korean law defines abortion as artificially ending the life of an unborn child aged 23 weeks or younger. It allows exceptions if a mother’s life is in jeopardy if she gives birth and in case where women are victims of rape or incest or have infectious or genetically-based mental illnesses.
Both abortionists and the women who seek abortions are subject to prison terms of up to two years, but few have ever been punished, the Joon Ang Daily reports.