Newsflash: Korean Doctor Sent to Jail for Performing Abortion, Korean Woman Fined for Planning to Have One

( Source: Dramabeans )

Yes, those really did happen in the last couple of months.

( Source: Dramabeans )

Yes, those really did happen in the last couple of months.

Perhaps it was naive of me to be so shocked and surprised however? After all, according to the Korea Herald, “about 30 [doctors] have been brought to the court over the past 5 years, mostly resulting in probation or fines”, so presumably this latest case technically isn’t the first time a Korean doctor has been incarcerated for performing an abortion (for 1 year, with probation for 2 years). And then the Lee Myung-bak Administration did signal it would begin enforcing Korea’s long-ignored abortion laws over a year ago too, in a vain and wholly misguided effort to increase the record-low birthrate, so prosecutions had to emerge sooner or later.

Still, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the first time a pregnant woman has been fined for just planning an abortion, and according to the law she could even face having her baby in jail herself if she tries again. And the fact that she was charged as a result of her husband informing the police? It sounds positively Dickensian.

Seriously, is he physically confining her to their home as I type this? Is she still allowed to divorce him, or has she been stripped of that right too?

My second surprise was that, yet again, I didn’t actually learn of this important news via any English-language media, but rather via the following humble-looking video passed on to me by a Facebook friend, who in turn found it via her friend Heejung Paik of Gwangju Womenlink (광주여성민우회). Simply a very brief overview of Korean’s draconian abortion laws in the global context rather than a discussion of the cases themselves though, I’ve just translated those parts relevant to Korea below:

From 0:21-0:39:

2010년 3월, 멕시코 165명의 여성 낙태로 수감중

멕시코 구아나후아토주 여성, 최대 35년형 낙태로 선고

2010년 9월, 한국의사 낙태시술로 징역 1년 선고

In March of 2010, in Mexico 165 women were incarcerated for having abortions.

One of those women, in the state of Guanajuato, got the maximum sentence of 35 years.

In September of 2010, a Korean doctor was sentenced to 1 year in jail for performing an abortion.

Next, two visuals from 1:04-1:20 (apologies for the poor quality):

On the left:

Estimated number of abortions performed annually (in brackets, the number of 15-44 year-old women out of 1000 that had abortions)

Married: 198,000 (28.6/1000)

Unmarried: 144,000 (31.6/1000)

Source: Ministry of Welfare and Family Affairs (2005; now defunct)

On the right:

Out of 342,433 abortions,  4.4% (or 14,939) were legal, and 95.6% (or 327,494) were illegal.

Estimation based on 2005 survey of 201 abortion clinics, and 2004 health insurance records of legal abortions.

Source: Ministry of Social Welfare

From 1:50-1:58:

유교적인 조선시대에서조차 낙태한 여성이 처벌받은 기록이 없다

Even in the Confucian Joseon Dynasty there is no record of any punishment for abortion

( Source )

From 2:17-2:35:

강간, 근친 상간 또는 임부의 건강 보호를 이유로만 낙태가 가능한 나라 (멕시코, 브라질, 수단, 대한민국 등 17개국)

한국보다 낮은 등급의 국가는 전체의 약 27%에 불과하며,

이란, 아프가니스탄, 리비아 등의 국가가 속해있다.

현재 OECD 국가 20개 중 한국보다 낙태시술이 어려운 나라는 단  2개국뿐이다.

There are 17 countries that allow abortion only in the case of rape, incest and if the health of mother is threatened (Mexico, Brazil, Sudan, South Korea, and so on)

Altogether, only 27% of countries provide less abortion rights than Korea, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Libya.

At present, out of the 20 countries in the OECD, there are only 2 in which it is more difficult to obtain an abortion than Korea.

Finally, from 3:09-3:16:

2010년 10월, 한국에서는 낙태를 한 여성이 남편의 고발로 검찰에 기소되어 벌금형을 선고 받았다.

In October 2010, a Korean woman was fined after her husband informed the police of her intention to have an abortion.

( Source )

And on that note, apologies for not providing details about the cases myself in this post, but as I finishing typing this at 1:30am (albeit with a final edit over a coffee 9 hours later) then my translations of Korean articles on those will have to wait until later this weekend sometime next week I’m afraid. Hence the “newsflash” in the title!

Until then though, is anyone aware of any English-language articles on them that I may have missed? And how do you personally feel about the news?


Filed under: Abortion, Childbirth, Contraception, Korean Sexuality, Pregnancy, Rape, Sexual Relationships Tagged: 낙태, 광주여성민우회, Gwangju Womenlink

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