Women clad in all black gather to call for repeal of abortion ban

Posted on : 2017-12-04 16:11 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
230,000 people recently signed a petition on the Blue House website to legalize the procedure
 staff reporter)
staff reporter)

“If abortion is a crime, than the criminal is the state!” the protesters shouted. A group of over 500 protesters in black clothing had gathered at Sejong Street Park, in the Jongno District of Seoul, on the afternoon of Dec. 2, as the temperature hovered just over zero degrees celsius. Wearing black coats, black hats and black gloves, they were singing an altered version of the Christmas song “Look Out the Window:” “Feminist President, look out the window, the feminists are here. It’s time to end the ban, the ban on abortion.”

The park was the site of the 2017 Black Protest to Legalize Abortion. The protest was organized by the Joint Campaign to Legalize Abortion, which is composed of 11 civic groups, including Womenlink and Korea Women’s Hot Line. “The government needs to legalize abortion right now,” the protesters demanded.

“Criminalizing abortion infringes upon women’s right to pursue happiness and their right to choose. The government and the National Assembly have kept procrastinating and have been unable to decide to legalize abortion,” the protesters said.

The protesters were strident in their criticism of the government. “We do have Article 14 of the Mother and Child Health Act, but even that puts all the responsibility on the woman.”

After opening the stage for protesters to speak and shouting slogans together, the protesters marched to the local government office in the Hyoja neighborhood near the Blue House. The protesters cheered on the speakers by waving their placards, which contained messages such as “So what about legalizing abortion?” and “My body belongs to me.”

Women’s groups take part in the “2017 Black Protest to Legalize Abortion” held at the Sejong Street Park in the Jongno District of Seoul on Dec. 2. (by Shin Min-jung
Women’s groups take part in the “2017 Black Protest to Legalize Abortion” held at the Sejong Street Park in the Jongno District of Seoul on Dec. 2. (by Shin Min-jung

The first person to speak was a girl in high school named Byeon Ye-jin, 17, who argued that sex education at school stigmatized abortion. “That sex-ed we get at school talks about chastity and self-discipline and inculcates fear and guilt about abortion as well. A teenage girl who wants to have an abortion has to deal with high prices and risk. She also needs an adult’s consent, which means that the teenager is left out of the decision-making process,” Byeon said.

“The Mother and Child Health Act permits abortion only when a pregnancy has resulted from sexual violence, but this interprets sexual violence too narrowly. Sexual violence has a wide scope that includes not only sex resulting from physical violence but also sex in hierarchical relationships and the removal of contraceptives without consent,” said an individual who works for the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center.

On Nov. 26, the Blue House responded to a petition to legalize abortion by announcing that it would carry out a fact-finding study of abortion designed to identify the current status of abortion and the reasons for the ban. The results of this study, the Blue House said, would be used to move forward with the related debate. Around 230,000 people signed the petition to legalize abortion that was posted to the Blue House website.


By Shin Min-jung, staff reporter

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