Statement in Solidarity with Women in South Korea

We, the Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion, welcome South Korea’s Constitutional Court decision on Thursday 11th of April 2019 to overturn a ban on abortion that has stood for more than 65 years by stating the current law unconstitutionally curbs women’s rights to abortion.[1] The decision was met with cheers from hundreds of women waiting outside, many of whom have been campaigning for such a decision for many years.

We congratulate the Korean SRHR movement for its advocacy, networking, and mobilization efforts that resulted in the decriminalisation of abortion.  This victory is huge step forward for Korean women as it embodies a strong commitment to respect, protect, and fulfill women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including their right to health, physical and psychological integrity, and bodily autonomy.

South Korea’s current laws governing abortion are some of the strictest in the developed world where it is criminalised in most cases and only allowed for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or if a woman or girl’s health is endangered by the pregnancy.[2] However, South Korean doctors’ growing reluctance to provide abortions is affecting the availability of abortion services in even these circumstances with reports from the Korean Sexual Violence Relief Centre indicating an increase in the number of women denied abortions.[3]

South Korea has been debating from a range of stakeholders as to whether the government should crack down on illegal abortion and enforce the abortion ban for many years now. Proponents of the crackdown come from two groups, the first is from government officials who advocate cracking down on abortion to increase the country’s fertility rate, which in 2009 was the second lowest in the world at 1.22%. The second is a group of service providers, who  oppose abortion for religious reasons. Refusal of care for abortion can also have non-religious motives and in South Korea there is even a faction of non-religious service providers that oppose abortion because they feel it violates their ethical precepts, such as protecting the sanctity of life.[4] Making abortion illegal does not stop it from happening, all it does is promote unsafe and clandestine abortions.[5]  In Asia, almost half of maternal deaths are attributed to complications resulting from unsafe abortion. The Korean Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists have opposed the crackdown of abortion indicating that it will lead to an increase in health problems from unsafe abortions as the operations are forced deeper underground, as well as increase in abandonment of children.[6]

Women’s bodies have time and time again been used as political and ideological battlefields for these kind of debates. Claiming women’s right to safe abortion as a human right is the only way forward toward ensuring women are allowed to do what they want with their bodies and their lives. This means expanding the choices available to her to prevent unintended pregnancy which embraces access to information to reproductive health information and services that includes comprehensive range  of contraception and access to safe abortion if they do not work. Not doing so will only put more women’s lives in danger. As such, we believe that Korean women and girls have the right to exercise meaningful decision-making power over their lives, as well as the right to access safe and comprehensive healthcare services, as part of the State’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfil women’s rights.

The Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion calls for:

  • The removal of restrictive laws and policies that prevent the right to safe abortion and minimise quality and safe abortion services for women and girls in South Korea
  • A recognition of women’s rights to safe abortion as a human right by all parties concerned
  • Guarantees and protection of all women’s right to life, health, freedom from discrimination, bodily integrity and autonomy
  • Guarantees of universal access to affordable health care, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services to ensure that women and girls have access and can afford the care they need
  • Provision of sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception and safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care, that are accessible, affordable, confidential, and high-quality, free of marital and parental consent requirements

 

About us:

The Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion was launched in 2018 and currently comprises 7 civil society organisations; Naripokkho, Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion (BAPSA), Reproductive Health Association Cambodia (RHAC), CommonHealth, Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNNR) and the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) committed to realising the right to safe abortion for all women through strategic interventions that recognise abortion as a rights issue.

If you or your organisation is interested in joining the Alliance please sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc6BLEzJqb14J2ixjj6RTj_W7DXROdoOXOu_MZER_7GB6qqsg/viewform or scan the QR code below:

 

 

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/3005693/south-korean-constitutional-court-overturns-abortion-ban

[2] http://time.com/5568461/south-korea-abortion-ban-overturn/

[3]Andrew Wolman, Abortion in Korea: A Human Rights Perspective on the Current Debate Over Enforcement of the Laws Prohibiting Abortion, The Journal of International Business and Law, https://law.hofstra.edu/pdf/academics/journals/jibl/jibl_vol9no1_wolman_abortion.pdf

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(06)69481-6/fulltext

[6] Ibid.

Vietnam

  • Centre for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP)

Indonesia

  • Aliansi Satu Visi (ASV);
  • CEDAW Working Group;
  • Hollaback! Jakarta;
  • Institut Kapal Perempuan;
  • Kalyanamitra;
  • Komnas Perempuan;
  • Remaja Independen Papua/Independent Youth
    Forum Papua (FRIP/IYFP);
  • Perkumpulan Keluarga Berencana Indonesia (PKBI);
  • Perkumpulan Lintas Feminis Jakarta;
  • Perkumpulan Pamflet Generasi;
  • RUTGERS Indonesia;
  • Sanggar SWARA;
  • Women on Web;
  • Yayasan Kesehatan Perempuan (YKP); 
  • YIFOS Indonesia

Maldives

  • Hope for Women
  • Society for Health Education (SHE)
Statement in Solidarity with Women in South Korea

We, the Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion, welcome South Korea’s Constitutional Court decision on Thursday 11th of April 2019 to overturn a ban on abortion that has stood for more than 65 years by stating the current law unconstitutionally curbs women’s rights to abortion.[1] The decision was met with cheers from hundreds of women waiting outside, many of whom have been campaigning for such a decision for many years.

We congratulate the Korean SRHR movement for its advocacy, networking, and mobilization efforts that resulted in the decriminalisation of abortion.  This victory is huge step forward for Korean women as it embodies a strong commitment to respect, protect, and fulfill women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including their right to health, physical and psychological integrity, and bodily autonomy.

South Korea’s current laws governing abortion are some of the strictest in the developed world where it is criminalised in most cases and only allowed for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or if a woman or girl’s health is endangered by the pregnancy.[2] However, South Korean doctors’ growing reluctance to provide abortions is affecting the availability of abortion services in even these circumstances with reports from the Korean Sexual Violence Relief Centre indicating an increase in the number of women denied abortions.[3]

South Korea has been debating from a range of stakeholders as to whether the government should crack down on illegal abortion and enforce the abortion ban for many years now. Proponents of the crackdown come from two groups, the first is from government officials who advocate cracking down on abortion to increase the country’s fertility rate, which in 2009 was the second lowest in the world at 1.22%. The second is a group of service providers, who  oppose abortion for religious reasons. Refusal of care for abortion can also have non-religious motives and in South Korea there is even a faction of non-religious service providers that oppose abortion because they feel it violates their ethical precepts, such as protecting the sanctity of life.[4] Making abortion illegal does not stop it from happening, all it does is promote unsafe and clandestine abortions.[5]  In Asia, almost half of maternal deaths are attributed to complications resulting from unsafe abortion. The Korean Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists have opposed the crackdown of abortion indicating that it will lead to an increase in health problems from unsafe abortions as the operations are forced deeper underground, as well as increase in abandonment of children.[6]

Women’s bodies have time and time again been used as political and ideological battlefields for these kind of debates. Claiming women’s right to safe abortion as a human right is the only way forward toward ensuring women are allowed to do what they want with their bodies and their lives. This means expanding the choices available to her to prevent unintended pregnancy which embraces access to information to reproductive health information and services that includes comprehensive range  of contraception and access to safe abortion if they do not work. Not doing so will only put more women’s lives in danger. As such, we believe that Korean women and girls have the right to exercise meaningful decision-making power over their lives, as well as the right to access safe and comprehensive healthcare services, as part of the State’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfil women’s rights.

The Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion calls for:

  • The removal of restrictive laws and policies that prevent the right to safe abortion and minimise quality and safe abortion services for women and girls in South Korea
  • A recognition of women’s rights to safe abortion as a human right by all parties concerned
  • Guarantees and protection of all women’s right to life, health, freedom from discrimination, bodily integrity and autonomy
  • Guarantees of universal access to affordable health care, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services to ensure that women and girls have access and can afford the care they need
  • Provision of sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception and safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care, that are accessible, affordable, confidential, and high-quality, free of marital and parental consent requirements

 

About us:

The Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion was launched in 2018 and currently comprises 7 civil society organisations; Naripokkho, Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion (BAPSA), Reproductive Health Association Cambodia (RHAC), CommonHealth, Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNNR) and the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) committed to realising the right to safe abortion for all women through strategic interventions that recognise abortion as a rights issue.

If you or your organisation is interested in joining the Alliance please sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc6BLEzJqb14J2ixjj6RTj_W7DXROdoOXOu_MZER_7GB6qqsg/viewform or scan the QR code below:

 

 

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/3005693/south-korean-constitutional-court-overturns-abortion-ban

[2] http://time.com/5568461/south-korea-abortion-ban-overturn/

[3]Andrew Wolman, Abortion in Korea: A Human Rights Perspective on the Current Debate Over Enforcement of the Laws Prohibiting Abortion, The Journal of International Business and Law, https://law.hofstra.edu/pdf/academics/journals/jibl/jibl_vol9no1_wolman_abortion.pdf

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(06)69481-6/fulltext

[6] Ibid.

Morocco

  • Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale (AMPF),
  • Morocco Family Planning Association

India

  • CommonHealth;
  • Love Matters India;
  • Pravah;
  • Rural Women’s Social Education Centre (RUWSEC);
  • SAHAYOG;
  • Sahaj;
  • Sahiyo;
  • SAMA – Resource Group for Women and Health;
  • WeSpeakOut;
  • The YP Foundation (TYPF)

Lao PDR

  • Lao Women’s Union;
  • The Faculty of Postgraduate Studies at the University of Health
    Sciences (UHS)

Sri Lanka

  • Bakamoono;
  • Women and Media Collective (WMC),
  • Youth Advocacy Network – Sri Lanka (YANSL)

Malaysia

  • Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia (FRHAM);
  • Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG);
  • Justice for Sisters (JFS);
  • Reproductive Health Association of
    Kelantan (ReHAK);
  • Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM);
  • Sisters in Islam (SIS)

Maldives

  • Hope for Women;
  • Society for Health Education (SHE)

Myanmar

  • Colourful Girls Organization;
  • Green Lotus Myanmar

Nepal

  • Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC);
  • Blind Youth Association of Nepal;
  • Blue Diamond Society (BDS);
  • Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA);
  • Visible Impact;
  • Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC);
  • YPEER Nepal;
  • YUWA

Pakistan

  • Aahung, Centre for Social Policy Development (CSPD);
  • Forum for Dignity Initiative (FDI);
  • Gravity Development Organization; Green Circle Organization;
  • Indus Resources Center (IRC);
  • Idara-e-Taleem-O-Aaghai (ITA);
  • Rehnuma – Family Planning Association Pakistan;
  • Shelter
    Participatory Organisation;
  • Shirkat Gah;
  • The Enlight Lab

Philippines

  • Democratic Socalist Women of the Philippines (DSWP);
  • Galang;
  • Healthcare Without Harm;
  • Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities;
  • Likhaan Centre for Women’s Health;
  • Nisa UI Haqq Fi Bangsamoro;
  • PATH Foundation Inc. (PFPI);
  • Women’s Global Network for
    Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

Singapore

  • End Female Genital Cutting Singapore
  • Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

Mongolia

  • MONFEMNET National Network