South Korea: Towards Allowing Abortion Up to 24 Weeks

October 29, 2020
Seoul National Assembly building

In October 2020, the government of South Korea proposed a bill extending the time limit for abortion to twenty-four weeks under certain circumstances. The Catholic bishops of the peninsula have tried to make their voices heard, but the project seems to be accepted by a large part of the population.

On October 7, 2020, at the same time as in France, the South Korean government passed a bill extending the time limits for abortion to the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

But the South Korean project goes much further: in the event of pregnancy due to criminal violence, endangering the health of the mother, or signs of malformations of the unborn child, it will be possible to bring an end to the life of the unborn child, up to twenty-four weeks of pregnancy… In other words, at the 6th month, when the child is viable.

The adoption of the bill prompted protests from the South Korean Bishops’ Conference (CBCK). The Korean episcopate had also already warned, in a letter dated August 20, 2020, addressed to President Moon Jae-in, that it was the Head of State’s responsibility to protect human life “from conception.”

On September 2, in a message published on the official website of the CBCK, the South Korean prelates reiterated their condemnation of the law, insisting on the fact that it was urgent to transform “the current social culture” which would like render to “women alone the responsibility for their pregnancy and births.”

According to the constitution in force on the peninsula, South Koreans still have 40 days to submit their opinion on the government plan before the law is presented to the National Assembly.

Will the voice of the bishops be heard in a country where Catholicism represents less than eleven percent of the population? We can doubt it: in opinion polls published at the beginning of October 2020, nearly three quarters of those questioned said they supported the government’s proposed infanticide project.

These crimes risk being punished quickly. With a fertility rate of barely 1 child per woman, South Korea will soon be a country of old people. And its neighbor to the north, which has a double fertility rate, will no longer have to make an effort to win.