Thousands protest against abortion

Call for repeal of Article14 of Mother and Child Act, which they say encourages abortion
Thousands protest against abortion
Koreans protest against abortion at the country's first annual March for Life, June 9, 2012 (John Won)
Some 2,000 anti-abortion activists gathered for South Korea’s first March For Life rally on Saturday. Standing in front of Seoul City Hall, they called for the repeal of a law that allows abortion, easier methods of safely abandoning babies and government support for single mothers. “We should solve the abortion issue by approaching social and financial factors,” said Thomas Cha Hee-jae, president of the Korean Pro-life Doctors Association. Participants urged the government to abolish Article 14 of the Mother and Child Health Act, which was passed in 1973, saying the clause encourages women to have abortions. According to Article 14, abortion can be performed in cases of pregnancy by rape or incest, certain kinds of genetic, mental, or physical conditions, or danger to the mother’s health. Critics of the law say it has effectively legalized abortion because the government has been lax in enforcing it. To lower abortion rates, another attendee, Reverend Lee Jong-rak, suggested that the government support establishing  "Baby Boxes" nationwide. A Baby Box is a place where mothers can bring their babies, usually newborns, and leave them anonymously in a safe place. Lee set up the country’s first and only Baby Box in 2009, in Seoul. “We need more,” he said. About 50-100 South Korean infants die after being abandoned each year, and another 10-20 are killed by their parents, according to the National Police Agency. So far, 18 disabled babies and 52 other newborns have been left in the box. Abortion has been a hot-button issue in South Korea lately. On June 7, the Food and Drug Administration announced morning-after pills will likely be available over-the-counter at the end of the year. “The final decision on the contraceptive pills will be made during public hearings. All of us should participate in the hearings to reverse the government’s decision,” said Kim Hyun-chul, president of Korea Pro-life. Related reports Morning-after pill to be freely available Bishop calls for health act revision Koreans launch anti-abortion drive
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