In May, Ireland passed a referendum that relaxed its laws on abortion, making the practice more accessible to its citizens. While the Pro-Choice movement continues to grow at an alarming rate in Western, traditionally Christian, countries, other cultures are finding themselves in a similar struggle with abortion. And because of the actions of one doctor, the issue has come to the forefront of Korean politics, demonstrating the universality of the debate.
Since 1953, in Korea, abortion outside of rape, incest, and health has been punishable by law. Women who engage in such procedures can face up to a year in prison. Doctors can receive twice the amount of time. A doctor who has performed almost 70 abortions within the last two years, and has recently been prosecuted, is now challenging this law.
The doctor remains unnamed by media sources, but it has been reported that his challenge of South Korea’s law has reached the Constitutional Court, the highest authority in the nation. If his case wins out, the court could deem the aforementioned law as unconstitutional, thereby nullifying it and opening the nation to accessing abortions.
Despite its stringent laws, it appears that enforcement of them has been very liberal. The Korean Women’s Development Institute, according to The Korea Herald, estimates that approximately 20% of women who have been pregnant have had an abortion. Out of this figure, only about 1% said they had a legal reason, being rape, incest, or health risks.
Support for legalizing abortion appears to be split, for now. Korea’s Christian population remains strongly Pro-Life, while an additional bloc concerned with low birth rates across the country has become prominent, as well. This group, which extends beyond any specific religion or ideology, could be key in preserving the nation’s laws. This marks a key difference between Ireland’s abortion debate, which seemed to morph into a discussion focusing on religion.
Also unlike Ireland, South Korea’s rule has a distinct clause. A part of the law that remains relatively unique to Korea is the requirement for a husband’s permission to carry out an abortion. This not only limits the practice to married women, but leaves the decision in the hands of their husbands, too. This could potentially work against the Pro-Life movement of South Korea, which could be accused of being sexist, citing the law’s dependence on the husband.
To say the least, South Korea technically remains quite Pro-Life in policy. However, the severe lack of enforcement remains concerning to both Pro-Life groups who insist on the protection of the unborn, and the Pro-Abortion groups that cite the lack of enforcement as a reason to get rid of the law altogether.
While Ireland and Korea differ in culture, the fact that the subject of abortion has become so prevalent in both countries illustrates how dire the fight for life is across the globe. At this point, more details are still emerging from the upcoming court hearing, though no date has been set for it yet.
On August 16, 2017, Governor Kate Brown signed a bill that forces health care providers to cover the costs of abortions. This essentially makes abortions free to almost all citizens and even illegal immigrants. Though this decision posed alarm to the Pro-Life movement at the time, it only signals the continual degradation that the value of life has faced across the state. However, there is hope in the battle against the extensive loss of life that continues to threaten future generations of children. And now is the time to act.
A petition at www.stopthefunding.org is approaching the 150,000 signatures needed for an end to taxpayer funded abortions. With almost 120,000 so far, the deadline is June 30. All Oregon citizens are eligible to sign, and the website even provides the ability to print and distribute petition sheets. The petition is provided by Oregon Life United, a group that seeks to unite Oregonians in an effort to protect the value of life.
According to the website, approximately $1.7 million are spent on abortions, amounting to over $23 million within the last fourteen years. This yields an estimated ten abortions every day, funded by Oregon taxpayers. As of now, Oregon has little to no Pro-Life protections for women or children.
Signing this petition will contribute to putting the issue of abortion on voters’ ballots. If passed, it would cut off tax-funded abortions throughout the state, as mandated by HB 3391. As mentioned earlier, the petition can be signed online, though it is also available for physical signatures at a variety of public spaces and churches.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, and she’s Pro-Life. Dr. Diane Foley is a women’s health specialist who has contributed to several Pro-Life causes and organizations throughout her career. Once the CEO of Life Network, a Pro-Life pregnancy resource center in Colorado, Foley has accepted a pivotal position in the fight to defend life.
As mentioned in a previous article here on the Oregon Optimist, President Donald Trump is considering a new Title X regulation that could prevent several Pro-Choice organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, from receiving federal funding. Now that Dr. Foley has been selected for her position, many Pro-Life advocates are eager to see President Trump’s plans come through. Her specific role oversees the Title X funding that Trump seeks to modify.
Left-wing media websites have been quick to attack Dr. Foley, labeling her clinics as “fake,” though there is little to evidence supporting such claims. Dr. Foley replaces Theresa Manning, another Pro-Life advocate.
As the President continues his avid support of the Pro-Life movement, scores of supporters hope for changes to come in national policy. Appointees, like Dr. Foley, serve as an example of the Trump administration’s efforts in fulfilling his promises made at the March for Life in 2018, the first annual march where a sitting president made remarks.
Oregon Right to Life is no stranger to endorsing, supporting, and providing information about political candidates. In June 2016, however, a bitter battle ensued between Republicans, that culminated in a lawsuit that threatened Oregon Right to Life’s first amendment right to communicate with voters.
Former Representative Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) was accused in 2012 of giving alcohol to a staffer under 21 and pressuring her into a relationship. This led to his stepping down from his position. Wingard ran again in 2016, and Oregon Right to Life (ORTL), alongside the Oregon Family Council (OFC), informed voters of Wingard’s action while in office. Soon after the fliers were printed and distributed, ORTL and OFC were sued by Wingard for defamation.
The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, where the judge initially ruled in favor of Wingard. ORTL and other defendants appealed under an Anti-SLAPP motion. The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts ruling.
Finally, as of June 11, the Oregon Supreme Court denied Wingard of his appeal, granting Oregon Right to Life a key victory in their legal battles. A statement was sent out to Oregon Right to Life supporters, reading, “This is a great day for us, but more importantly this is a great day for free speech in Oregon. The right to communicate freely with voters about candidates was upheld.”