SEOUL, South Korea, June 24, 2013 ( – More than 3,000 people, representing all of the country’s religious groups, marched through the capital of South Korea earlier this month, calling on the government to “promote the sanctity of life,” AsiaNews reports.

Promoting the slogan “Life says [speaks], Life listens, and Life walks!” protesters in Seoul went on to express their concerns over the country’s low birthrate.

The June 8 march, which was organized by the Federation for Life, an interfaith pro-life group, also called for the abolition of the Law on Mother and Child, which allows abortion up to 24 weeks gestation in cases where the child is thought to have a genetic or infectious disease; when the mother is a victim of rape, “quasi-rape” (meaning they were mentally unable to resist their rapist), or incest; and when there is a risk to the mother’s health.


“Despite its great success in so many different fields, our nation remains underdeveloped from the point of view of the defence of life,” said Mgr. Linus Lee Seong-hyo, president of the Pro-life Commission of the Korean Bishops’ Conference. “The government needs to stop this and give people the chance to make the right choice.”

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“Let us give people an opportunity to do the right thing,” he added.

Despite the law officially restricting the practice, the United Nations estimates that there are about 20 abortions per 1,000 births in Korea. The nation’s total fertility rate (TFR) is one of the lowest in the world at 1.24 children born per woman.

The Seoul Times cited recent government statistics that showed in 2010, 170,000 babies in South Korea “died before ever seeing the light of day.”


A report published in June 2010 by the Korea Times estimated that “based on insurance data and a government-sponsored study, academic researchers have concluded that those exceptions applied to only about 4 percent of an estimated 340,000 abortions performed in 2005.”

“The tragic situation of abortions in South Korea has not changed,” said Mgr. Linus Lee Seong-hyo.

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The march follows the publication in March of a book, favuring further liberalization of the law, detailing the experiences of 25 Korean women who had abortions. The book reopened a public debate about abortion in South Korea.

The book, published by the pro-abortion non-governmental organization Women Link, decried the “discrimination” felt by women seeking abortions, but also catalogued the grief and regret felt by those who had gone through with the decision. “The memory of the operation has also proved to be a terrible burden. 40-year-old Mi-young, an elementary school teacher, said that she will never be able to put the memories of her abortion out of her mind.

“You feel the guilt of having killed a baby. Any time something bad happens to me, that guilt comes back,” she said. “You feel like, ‘Am I being punished for having done something wrong?’ As long as I live, I will never be able to forget it.”

Despite abortion being technically illegal, Women Link quoted one woman saying, “there is no such thing as a hospital that does not perform abortions.”

“Rather than reducing the number of abortions, criminalization has only made the operations more expensive, secretive, and dangerous,” they claimed.