President Moon faces new challenge about whether to legalize abortion

By Lim Chang-won Posted : October 30, 2017, 11:04 Updated : October 30, 2017, 11:04

[AP/Yonhap News Photo]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who portrayed himself as a feminist, face a new challenge from equal rights activists who have called for the legalization of abortion for decades in a male-dominated society.

The window for public petitions at the presidential website was flooded with more than 200,000 endorsors on Monday since the first petition calling for the legitimation of abortion and drugs used for miscarriage was posted on September 30.

Although abortion is illegal, it is actually very common. Religious groups support the criminality of abortion despite steady calls from women's groups about abortion rights.

Moon's office has vowed to give an answer about the controversial issue if the number of signatories exceeds 200,000. The first petitioner insisted South Korea should abolish a criminal code banning abortion and allow the sale of drugs used to induce spontaneous abortions to prevent unwanted birth.

The law allows abortions for victims of rape or incest, women whose health is at risk, cases where the fetus is suspected of having a genetic disorder, and pregnant women or their spouses who suffer from communicable or hereditary diseases.

In practice, such exceptions have been used to justify abortion on demand, and the law prohibiting abortion under normal circumstances has largely been unenforced. The widespread practice of abortion has raised a host of questions. Women who have Illegal operations can receive a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to two million won (1,770 US dollars), while doctors can be jailed for up to two years.

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