Almost two thousand obstetrics and gynecology doctors in South Korea have protested tough new Ministry of Health and Welfare abortion regulations by refusing to perform abortions for women.
"We flatly refuse to carry out abortions, which the government has defined as an immoral medical action," the Korean College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists said in a statement in reponse to the regulations.
The new government sanctions, which were released last month, threaten to ban doctors from practice for a month if they are found to have performed an illegal abortion. The regulations include abortion among a list of “immoral medical actions”, together with sexual assault and ghost surgery (where one doctor substitutes for another without the patient’s knowledge).
Abortion is illegal in South Korea except in cases of rape, incest, genetic disorders or where the pregnancy would threaten a woman’s health.
Lee Young-Kyu, vice-chairman of the Korean College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists, said that the ban was “simply appalling”. Patients who seek abortions were often poor or underage, she said, adding: “If women were forced to give birth in these circumstances, it puts a question mark on whether that is moral”.
The country’s Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the near total ban on abortion, and is expected to make a ruling later this year.
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