A South Korean abortionist accidentally killed the unborn child of a woman who wanted to carry to term after mixing up medical charts, local police revealed on Monday.
Seoul Gangseo Police Station confirmed that they had booked a gynecologist and a nurse for carrying out an abortion on a six-week pregnant woman after failing to check the patient’s medical information before undertaking the operation. The alleged victim, a Vietnamese national, reportedly entered the hospital for a separate treatment but ended up in a delivery room, where the doctors give injections and perform surgeries.
Having failed to properly check her identity, they ended up confusing her for a woman who was scheduled to receive an abortion and consequently anesthetized her before terminating her pregnancy. The patient returned to the hospital the following day after experiencing bloody discharge, where she was told that her child had been aborted.
Both the gynecologist and the accompanying nurse were later charged with professional negligence over their failure to confirm the patient’s identity before proceeding with the operation.
Police initially considered charges of abortion without consent, although they concluded that the two suspects could not be arrested on such charges as the victim was not aware that she was having an abortion, meaning she could not have consented to nor rejected the procedure.
A nationwide ban on abortion was imposed in South Korea in 1953, although the country’s supreme court ordered in April that the law must be revised by the end of 2020, deeming the current ban as unconstitutional. The case was brought to the court after a legal challenge was launched by a doctor prosecuted for carrying out nearly 70 abortions.
Under the 1953 ban, both women and doctors carrying out abortions can face even fines or imprisonment, although cases of rape, incest, or risk to their health are exempt. Despite this, approximately 50,000 abortions were carried out in the country in the year 2017.
According to a government survey carried out this year, approximately eight out of ten South Korean women said they did not believe the procedure should be criminalized.