August 10, 2013 08:23
Korean women travel to China to have abortions which are illegal in Korea, especially in summer when trips abroad attract less attention. But although abortions are legal in China, it is still illegal for Korean nationals to undergo those procedures there, and they have no legal redress if complications arise.
Abortion became legal in China after the government there enforced a one-child policy in 1971. Some 336 million abortions have taken place there since. One agent who arranges abortion trips to China told the Chosun Ilbo, "Abortions are legal in China and using aliases removes any records. Chinese doctors are more skilled in abortions, due to their ample experience."
One broker claimed to know of a hospital in China where the abortions are performed by Korean doctors. A package covering the whole procedure including operation fees, transportation and lodging costs about W200 million for a four-day stay (US$1=W1,112). Discounts are available if visa application and air-ticket purchase through a certain travel agency are made.
Experts warn such trips entail huge risks. "It is very dangerous to make long trips while pregnant or after undergoing an abortion," said Cha Hee-jae at the conservative Association of Pro-life Physicians. "An abortion in facilities lacking proper sanitary conditions could result in infections or hemorrhage, leading to infertility or even death."
Police warn that Korean women who have an abortion in China could face punishment under Korean law.
A growing number of Korean women are making the trip to China after scores of obstetricians were busted in February 2010 for performing illegal abortions.
According to a study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare last year, the number of abortions was estimated at 290,000 in 2005 but fell to 160,000 in 2010, probably because more women now travel abroad.
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