Posted February. 11, 2010 09:07,
The Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry said yesterday that it will launch a council next month to seek a social consensus on abortion.
The plan is part of the ministrys measures to prevent illegal abortions to be announced before the end of the month.
The council will comprise some 20 figures from all walks of life, including religion, medicine and womens groups.
Over the past two years, the ministry has held life forums with 20 figures from the medical, legal, religious and civic communities. The forums seek to prevent illegal abortions, which account for 95 percent of all abortions in Korea.
The high rate of illegal abortions is known to reflect the wide gap between the law and reality.
A ministry official said seven forums were held in 2008 and last year, adding the councils launch is based on the forum.
Sohn Myeong-se, a professor of medical law and ethics at Yonsei University in Seoul and a key participant of the forum, will likely chair the council.
Religious circles are basically opposed to abortion for medical and socioeconomic reasons, while womens groups say women who have difficulty raising babies such as minors and single women should have a choice.
The medical community says the scope of legal abortion should be expanded to include that for an embryo with an incurable deformity on the basis of medical ethics.
The ministry will draw up a social consensus on the debate, which has grown since a group of anti-abortion doctors reported obstetricians who have performed illegal abortions to prosecutors.
If the council draws a conclusion after sufficient discussion, the ministry will reflect it into a revision bill for maternity law.