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LinkAsia | Apr 10
Faced with a slumping real estate market, the South Korean government has announced a plan to cut borrowing costs and provide tax breaks in order t...
Across the border in South Korea, the nation's Constitutional Court has upheld a 59-year-old ban on abortion. The panel was actually deadlocked, 4-4, but it failed to muster the six votes needed to overturn the ban, which only allows abortions in cases of rape, incest or severe genetic disorders. Yoo Eun Lee from Global Voices tells us that many women are expressing their frustration online.
Yoo Eun Lee:
The court's decision got many South Koreans wondering what made the authorities suddenly care about the issue after decades of turning a blind eye to abortion. Many people speculated the reason for cracking down was due to the country's low birthrate. The UN says South Korea has the 4th lowest birthrate in the world.
This user wrote referring to the government:
"They want to stick to their old slogan 'population is national power' and make people give birth regardless of their marital status."
Many women condemned the decision as disregarding their right to self-determination and control over their own bodies. They said it was a harsh decision especially for unmarried Korean women who would suffer from social stigma and a lack of social safety net.
This Twitter user wrote:
"Women's bodies are not factories, or conveyor belts, to produce children when the government orders them."
This user listed practical problems that make women consider abortion:
"When unmarried woman faces an unwanted pregnancy, people would simply say, 'don't have an abortion. Deliver a child and give it up for adoption.' How come these people don't realize all sorts of problems unmarried women will face the social discrimination, prejudice and accusations that they are cold-blooded mothers who abandoned their own child. And what about their jobs during pregnancy, and the financial issues?"
This user lamented Korean society's patriarchal nature:
"The most ridiculous part in this debate is that there are so many people voicing out their opinion louder than those women who have, could have, would have, been pregnant."
South Korea banned abortion in 1953, but according to official data, more than 340,000 women had abortions last year. Almost all were illegal.
I am Yoo Eun Lee, for LinkAsia.