Recently, a new president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, has approved abortion in the US. His opinion is that abortion is a problem of an individual therefore the government should not intervene. Among many controversial issues in the world, abortion is probably one of the most serious and controversial issues because you should choose between the right of mother and the life of a baby. Since it is so controversial, the Hanyang Journal decided to look at the opinions of Hanyangians.
360 students from both Ansan and Seoul Campus took part in the survey. 62.7% of students were in favor of abortion, and 37.3% of students opposed abortion. The number of students who were in favor of abortion was about twice as large as the percentage of students who were opposed to abortion. They were in favor of the survey was targeting university students, who claimed they wanted to be able to have abortions safely in the case of unwanted or unexpected pregnancies. The most common reason given for supporting abortion, which is supported by 62.3% of pro-choicers, was that they wanted to have abortion when they were facing unexpected pregnancy. The second most popular reason was that irresponsible parents should not be given the chance to raise a child as it would lead both the parents and the child to an unhappy life.
On the other hand, 76.8% of the students who were opposed to abortion answered they would not allow any act of taking a human life. They regarded an embryo as a human being and considered abortion as an act of murder. This reason was overwhelmingly supported and 11.1% of pro-lifers insisted that abortion was harmful to a mother’s health.
Lastly, with respect to how far they agreed on abortion, there were two major groups. In the first group, 43.8% of students said that they would allow a mother to have an abortion if she agreed to it. The next group, which accounted for 40.5% of Hanyangians say that they would allow abortion if the child that was about to be born was handicapped or was conceived as a result of sexual abuse.
As the results show, the number of supporting opinions is about twice as high as the opinions against the abortion. Taking a baby’s life is definitely a cruel act as the baby will be killed before he or she is born and has his or her own life. However the mother’s right to choose not having a baby is also an important factor which cannot be ignored. This topic has been controversial for a long time. Maybe it is because the rights of a mother and a baby are so important that it is difficult to say which one is more important.
Abortion Rights: A Fight against a Patriarchal Society
By Lee Eun-sang
Representative of Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center
The rights to life of a fertilized egg, an embryo and a fetus are always superceded by the rights of women who want to have an abortion. Is there any right which can be compared to the great and sacred right of life in the world? Defenders of the right to life always take moral superiority in the debate of an abortion.
However, unlike in an abstract debate, it is different in a real society. Even though abortion is illegal, it is practiced in this society and some research shows social consensus which supports the need for abortion. While I can see many people who are against abortion in the debate, I often meet people who have had an abortion or are considering having an abortion in a real life.
The right of life, the claim that an abortion is murder because a fetus is a human. Both are heavy subjects. Besides the dispute regarding the position of a fetus in the legal system, there is a lot of contradiction in understanding of “life.”
For example, in the case of pregnancy due to rape, our law permits a woman to have an abortion. Further, people, even defenders of life, usually stand by an abortion when a woman is pregnant has become as a result rape. If so, because rape is a kind of violence which a woman does not intend to experience and rape is different from sex which a woman intends to have, does it mean that it is unreasonable for the woman to take a moral responsibility due to the rape which she does not intend to experience? Then, is the point not “life” but “intention”?
Does the “intention” to have sex equate to the “intention” to become pregnant? Does the “intention” of all the sexes imply the “intention” of pregnancy? Of course, all the sexes have a “risk” of pregnancy. The reason why pregnancy is considered a “risk” is that there is no perfect way to control baby birth. There is always possibility to have an unwanted baby when having a sex. If you intend to punish “intentions,” the Criminal law should not only punish women who have abortions. Rape should be punished with an attempted abortion and sexual relations without contraception should be punished because those acts include “intention” to murder a fetus since they do not want to be pregnant.
An intended sexual relationship always involves moral consideration. Sex outside of marriage--which includes sex between teenagers, is always viewed as immoral behavior. The strict ban on abortion has an effect to control sex. Unmarried women and teenage girls who have children are not acceptable in our society. Therefore, it can be understood that you should not have a sex unless you want to get punished. There is no perfect method of contraception. The fact that there has been a condom which has given less effect on our bodies for hundreds of years proves that abortion is to control sexual relationship.
A girl who became pregnant by rape wanted to have an abortion in legal way. However, what she was told by the “Counseling Center against Sexual Violence” was that she needed to have a ruling which proves that it was because of rape. Though it is dumbfounding to be refused the right which is already admitted by the law, it is far more ridiculous that such a ‘ruling’ is needed. It takes such a long time to get this ruling that it might only become available to a mother when it is time to deliver the baby. Therefore, the request for the ruling is unrealistic and unreasonable.
Consequently abortion is not something which can be selected over the rights of life. Abortion is a conflict between the right of women and the nation’s control. Our country has people give birth once one is pregnant except in cases of pregnancy by rape and bearing a disabled child. However, they say that there is a possibility to encourage immoral sex so that they need the ruling. What our country wants is to allow abortion when there is too much population and to ban abortion when there is not enough population. Even though we are lack of population, we should not have any babies. So our country controls the birth within the range of the order of patriarchal society and lastly it also tries to minimize welfare costs on giving a birth and bringing up a child.
Despite that, our country has made a public opinion that a woman who chooses abortion is regarded as a person who lacks moral responsibility and is too selfish to stand an inconvenient environment because of a baby, and that she has hidden behind the public opinion. It is a woman who feels the existence of a fetus and raises a fetus into a “human” pouring her every effort and she decides to end the pregnancy considering her family, friends and her social life thoroughly. This country has never stressed that point.
When we are told to bring the ruling, we might have to answer like this. Ensure the costs of 10 months pregnancy and the cost of raising a child, as well as the physical, emotional, and educational costs when a baby is born because the ruling is over the due date. Why? Because this baby is born due to the ignorance of this country.
Fetal Personhood and the Reality of Abortion in Korea
By Choi Jeong-yun
The Director of Pro-Life
The resolution to the pro-life or pro-choice argument could be solved by searching for the answer to the question of the unborn is a human being and when life begins. Before 1970, the answer to question, whether the unborn was a person or not, was different according to the criteria of an individual's belief, religion, and values with controversy. However, since the 1970's, scientific instruments have progressed and with the development of fetology, embryology, ultrasonics and genetics, the fetus can be watched as well as the unborn is turned out as a separate, individual human being. The unborn is a person so abortion, which is the termination of fetal life artificially resulting in its death before natural childbirth, is a form of murder. Therefore, I object to abortion based on this medical evidence.
Abortion is categorized as therapeutic abortion to preserve maternal health and voluntary abortion by request of the woman. ‘Voluntary abortion’ means an abortion that we frequently say. Abortion is banned in Korea but reckless abortions are undergone by misusing the abortion permission standards of the Mother and Child Health Law. According to research done by Kim Hye-jung's team in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Korea University College of Medicine, in 2005, the Korean abortion rate is the identical rate of an average of 350,000 abortions per year. This survey shows 42 percent of total abortions was performed on unmarried women mostly between the ages of 20 and 24.
The cohabitation culture was spread among university students due to the openness about sex increasing the number of premarital relations. A survey of 248 college students’ (120 males and 128 females) attitudes toward sex was conducted by Campusherald in August 2006. The survey found that 80 percent of the male and 55 percent of female students thought premarital virginity was not important. Seven out of ten female students thought they were willing to have sexual relations as long as their boyfriends wanted to. The answers to the question regarding the matter of the time before respondents expected to have premarital sex were ranged from “a year later (8.8%)”, “after the wedding engagement (29%)” and “does not matter (39.1%)”. Also, 54.8 percent of respondents said they used contraceptives all the time. In reference to abortion, 63 percent of them thought abortions could be performed in unwanted pregnancy while 71.4 percent of the students who were pro-premarital sex said abortions could be done in those situations.
From the survey, we can see that many university students are pro-choice and do not disapprove of sex before marriage. But they enjoy having sexual relations, while nobody wants to take responsibility for pregnancy as a result of that. The problem is that the person concerned evades responsibility.
Although the openness about sex realized from the infusion of western culture, and the frequency of pro-premarital sex has increased in Korea, there are frequent occasions to decide for unmarried pregnant women to get an abortion because they are either afraid of what people will think of them or afraid to damage their reputation. The results from the aforementioned research show that 90 percent of single women got abortions for reasons like being unmarried. University students and the single whom I met via consultation explained the reasons why they had to get an abortion were finances, personal preparedness, their parents and military service.
Here is one example. A female university student had frequent intercourse and never becoming pregnant led her to believe that she could not get pregnant easily. She avoided contraception but she was embarrassed to discover her pregnancy after breaking up with boyfriend. It makes my heart hurt to hear that unmarried pregnant women have to have an abortion because they cannot go through the pregnancy that resulted from contraceptive failure. This is caused by the fact that people do not recognize they cannot have sexual relations without the possibility of pregnancy.
I hope people care about lives and they prevent unplanned pregnancies before marriage or abortions by thinking about unborn children who meet the end against their will. Lastly, I wish them to be intellectuals who take responsibility.
- “If parents lack economic ability, I believe it will lead to an unhappy life for both babies and parents. In these cases, parents have to have the right to make a decision on whether to have a kid or not.”
/ Choi Kyu-chan (Major in Philosophy, Sophomore)
- “An unwanted and unplanned baby can lead the baby and the mother to an unhappy life. And, as it is the right of mother who gives a baby a chance to be born, I believe she has the right to choose not to have the baby. All women should be aware that a baby can definitely turn a woman’s life up side down.”
/ Lee Ha-na (College of Information and Technology, Sophomore)
- “Having a baby is one of the major things in one’s life. Therefore, I believe it should be planned thoroughly and should be thought about for a long time. A baby does not only affect on the life of mother, but it also affects men’s lives too.”
/ Kim Su-hyun (College of Information and Technology, Sophomore)
- “Life is the most important thing in the world. Abortion, an act of killing a baby, is taking a life, and even though it is not a baby but a fetus, it is not acceptable. No one makes a decision on whether to keep one’s life or not. It is one of the basic rights of human beings. Therefore, nobody can make a decision on it, not even their parents.”
/ Kim Dong-han (School of Business, Junior)
- “The babies in their mother’s wombs, are actual human beings so abortion is an act of killing. People have to make sure that they prevent pregnancy before they consider killing the child. People in Korea should be re-educated on contraception, as many people are shy and reluctant to buy contraceptive materials.”
/ Yang Hae-soo (Department of English Language and Literature, Sophomore)
- “I think life is the most important thing for a person. An embryo is also a human being which makes it a person. Abortion is the act of killing. It is the same as murdering a person. Legalization of abortion is like forgiving a murderer. Abortion should not be legalized.”
/ Cho Ho-jin (School of Business, Sophomore)