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Survey results show that seven-and-a-half out of ten South Korean women aged 15 to 44 think Articles 269 and 270 (crime of abortion) of the Criminal Act, which punish women and medical professionals for abortion, should be amended.
The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) published findings on Feb. 14 from a survey conducted at the behest of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on current conditions in pregnancy termination. The first such survey in the seven years since 2011, it was conducted in the form of an online questionnaire completed by 10,000 women aged 15 to 44 between Sept. 20 and Oct. 30, 2018. The Blue House announced plans for the survey in Nov. 2017 after the number of participants on a citizens' petition for decriminalization of abortion and legalization of miscarriage-inducing medications exceeded 200,000 names. The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of criminal court provisions punishing women and medical professionals involved in abortion.
Of the 10,000 survey participants, 3,792 (38%) reported having been pregnant in the past, while 756 of those - representing 19.9% of all respondents who had experienced pregnancy - reported having undergone pregnancy termination. Based on these figures, the researchers estimated a total of around 50,000 abortion procedures performed in South Korea in 2017, representing a major decrease from the estimated 168,738 performed in 2010.
Abortions have been largely illegal in South Korea since 1953, though convictions for violating the restrictions are rare.
The court's nine-justice panel said that the parliament must revise legislation to ease the current regulations by the end of 2020. It said the current abortion law was incompatible with the constitution and would be repealed if parliament fails to come up with new legislation by then.
It's not clear exactly how many abortions take place in South Korea. In a recent survey of 10,000 women aged between 15 and 44, about 7.6%, or 756 respondents, said they had undergone an abortion. They mostly cited worries about difficulty in continuing their studies and jobs, economic problems and a desire to wait, according to the survey conducted by the state-run Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.
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