Note: I am a pro-life. If you disagree with this standing, please feel free to stop reading now.
Recently I came across an article from The Chicago Tribune discussing abortion issues in South Korea. The article reports of an activist group of physicians founded by obstetrician Shim Sang-duk who refuses to perform abortions and advocates prosecution for doctors who continue to do so.
FACT: Abortion is illegal in South Korea.
FACT: South Korea has one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries, so much so that it has been called “The Abortion Republic.”
FACT: In sharp contrast to the United States, physicians in Korea are ostracized for REFUSING to administer abortions.
I will not get into more politics, nor discuss the article in further detail. Instead, I want to tell you a story of a woman I knew in Korea.
“Western societies see abortion as one of benchmark battles between conservatives and liberals — while here there has not been even any academic discussion,” said Lee Na-young, a sociology professor at Seoul’s Chung-Ang University.
“Even though illegal abortions are widespread…it is true that everyone keeps quiet and does not say anything about it,” the politician [Chang Yoon-seok] said in a statement.
In the 1970s, the Korean government advocated fewer birth rates as a means to fuel economic productivity. There is a reason so many Korean families of my generation only have two children: the government provided tax credits and free healthcare for up to two children.
The woman in my story had two young children and discovered that she was pregnant with her third. She made an appointment with the same doctor that had treated her first two pregnancies and safely delivered both babies. However, upon discovering her condition, the doctor refused to treat her.
Instead, he pressured her to have an abortion. “Why would you want this child?” he asked. “You already have two. You can’t afford a third.”
When the women voiced her concerns, he became angry with her. “Either you have the abortion, or you go find another doctor.”
The woman reluctantly agreed. She was 4½ months pregnant.
For years, Shim rarely, if ever, even used the word “abortion.” Rather, he said, he sought to “erase” or “prevent” the fetus.
“I bought into the government’s argument that it was OK to do this,” he said. “It was good for the country. It boosted the economy.”
Due to the stage of her pregnancy and the lack of proper equipment (remember, abortions are illegal in Korea), the woman almost died from the procedure.
“My first two births were easy compared to this. I was in and out of the hospital in less than 24 hours both times I gave birth. When they gave me the abortion, however, I thought I was going to die. I had severe bleeding and developed an infection. I stayed in the hospital for over a week. All I could think about was how God was taking me away from my two babies for taking the life of the third.”
After receiving their abortions, he [Dr. Shim] said, most women cried.
“Many patients cry when they give birth,” he said, “but these were a different kind of tears.”