More than 200,000 sign pro-abortion petition in South Korea
Petition calls for abortion and the import of abortion pills to be decriminalised
By Chyung Eun-ju
More than 200,000 people have signed a petition on South Korean presidential office’s homepage to abolish the criminal status of abortion as of Sunday, requiring the central authority to give an official response.
A member of the public filed the petition on September 30 and since then 214,298 people had signed by Sunday at 4pm. on October 29, one day before the deadline.
Cheong Wa Dae had pledged in August to give an official reply within 30 days from a senior-or -minister level to a petition with more than 200,000 signatures.
The pledge came 100 days after the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May.
“Korea has a low birth rate, but unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy for those directly involved, the babies, and the nation,” said the first petitioner. “It is unfair to hold only women responsible under the current law.”
The petitioner also urged the government to legalise the importation of Mifegyne, an abortion pill first sold by French pharmaceutical company Roussel-Uclaf in the 1990s, stating that 119 countries now imported the medicine.
“There are a lot of people who secretly have abortion surgeries in South Korea,” said the petitioner. “If a woman undergoes an illegal abortion procedure and an accident happens, how can she receive help under the current law?”
Women who seek an abortion face up to a year in jail or a 2 million won (US$1,780) fine. Those who perform an abortion face a prison term up to two years.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said the presidential staff “will discuss the time period and method to respond to the petition,” according to Chosun Ilbo.
The fight to decriminalise abortion is the second public petition to muster more than 200,000 signatures.
On September 25, a petition to revise a youth law to prevent a person under 14 from receiving criminal punishment topped 200,000.