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The Seoul Expat Review

Law and Procedure for Abortion in Korea

March 20, 2017

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare provides a wealth of information on the laws and procedures for abortion. Abortion, while in principle is illegal in South Korea, has certain exceptions provided for in Article 14 of the Mother and Child Health Act. 

These exceptions include:

1) Where the pregnant woman or her spouse suffers from any eugenic or genetic mental disability or physical disease prescribed by Presidential Decree.

* Eugenic or genetic mental disability or physical disease includes achondroplasia, cystic fibrosis, and other hereditary anomalies that cause high risks to an embryo or a fetus.

2) Where the pregnant woman or her spouse suffers from any contagious disease prescribed by Presidential Decree.

* Contagious disease includes German measles, toxoplasmosis, and other diseases that cause high medical risks to an embryo or a fetus.

3) Where the pregnant woman is impregnated because of rape or quasi-rape.

4) Where pregnancy is taken place between relatives by blood or by marriage who are legally unable to marry;

5) Where the maintenance of pregnancy severely injures or might injure the health of the pregnant woman for health or medical reasons.

As a result, if the period of pregnancy is not more than 24 weeks and it falls within one of the above exceptions, an abortion operation is allowed.

Legally, a medical doctor may perform an abortion operation with the consent of the pregnant woman herself and her spouse (including the person in a de facto marital relationship; hereinafter the same shall apply). If the pregnant woman or her spouse is unable to give the consent, the person with parental authority or the guardian may express the consent instead.

Because this is a law, an abortion given or permitted without meeting the above conditions, all parties involved may be subject to criminal penalties.

If you would like to get more specific details about this health and welfare policy, you can contact the Health and Welfare Call Center at 129

However, because the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s website is only in Korean, and the contact people only speak Korean, medical consultation can be a much more comfortable and informative way of planning your future. Almost any hospital or clinic involving pregnancies and childbirth will be able to give you experienced advice.

One recommendation is Yoonho Hospital, a 24/7 women’s clinic in the Apgujeong area, has an professional and seasoned staff who can adeptly guide you regardless of the path you go. With an English-speaking OB/GYN, you will be in good hands. For more information, you can click here for Yoonho Hospital’s website and contact information

by AngloINFO. Find out more about AngloINFO here.

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