South Korea’s government is making it easier to get an abortion

THE WORST thing about it was the shame. “I worried about how other people would judge me for doing something illegal, what my parents and my friends would say if they found out,” says Kim Min-kyoung, a 24-year-old student from Seoul who decided to terminate a pregnancy last year. The second-worst thing was paying: how to find $1,000 without prompting awkward questions.

Both these problems should soon be slightly less severe for women in South Korea. If a bill under consideration by the National Assembly becomes law, a woman will be able to obtain an abortion up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy with ease. From 15 to 24 weeks in, she will still be able to do so provided she attends a counselling session and waits 24 hours before making a final decision. Her reason for ending the pregnancy must also fall into one of a series of approved categories. This regime would greatly expand access to abortion and thus put an end to expensive illicit procedures. It has prompted an unsurprising backlash from anti-abortion activists, but feminists are not entirely happy either.

A new law became necessary last year after the constitutional court struck down the existing one, which allows abortion only in exceptional circumstances, such as for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Otherwise it stipulates prison terms or hefty fines for...

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