South Korea High School Students Have Abortions at High Clip

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea High School Students Have Abortions at High Clip Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18
, 2007

Seoul, South Korea ( — New statistics in South Korea show that high school students are having abortions at a high rate as more than one in four female students who are sexually active have had an abortion. That’s according to a new survey conducted by the Korea Federation for HIV/AIDS Prevention.

The group questioned 2,898 middle school and high school students in Seoul and found that 26.9 percent of female high school students who had sexual intercourse had abortions.

The survey also found that South Korea’s youth have a very cavalier attitude when it comes to sexual relations.

Some 27 percent of middle school and 47.9 percent of high school students said having sex before marriage is not a problem. Numbers of students who actually engage in a sexual relationship is lower with 1.1 percent of middle school students and 7.5 percent of high school students having done so.

Because of legalized abortion and the revocation of maternity benefits to women who have a third child, South Korea is facing a severe underpopulation problem and last year spent $20 billion to combat it.

South Korea wants to increase the number of births to 1.6 per woman by 2010. The country is also considering changes to the nation’s tax structure to make it more affordable to have a larger family and to help businesses help large families.

National Statistical Office figures show the number of births dropped to 476,000 last year from 1 million in 1970. The nation has the world’s fastest aging population, the office said.

Fearing overpopulation problems similar to China’s and not wanting to dampen economic prosperity, South Korea 40 years ago began encouraging couples to limit their number of children to two.

The nation legalized abortion in 1973 and, in 1984, ended maternity benefits for women having a third child.

Now, South Korea has the lowest birth rate of any of the OECD members and is having problems sustaining its economic growth. It also faces the prospect of an aging population and not having enough younger Koreans in the workforce to support them.

Recent polling data of the attitudes of South Koreans on the issue of abortion finds a majority of residents of the Asian nation generally oppose abortion.

In an October Pew Research firm survey, respondents were asked whether they believed abortion was always justified, sometimes justified, or never justified.

None of those polled said abortion was always justified, 45 percent said it was sometimes justified and 54 percent said abortion is never justified.

Pew also asked residents of each of the nations a biased question about whether "the government should not interfere with a woman’s ability to have an abortion." A majority of South Korea residents were in favor of the statement.

Pew’s survey polled anywhere from 600-1,005 people in each country and the polls were taken from May to September. The polling firm did not mention the margin of error for each poll, but similar polls of the same sample size have about a 3-4 percent margin of error.