A Vietnamese woman in Seoul who was six-weeks pregnant went to a clinic to get a nutritional shot on Aug. 7. However, the nurse injected her with anaesthesia instead, before a doctor mistakenly performed an abortion on her.
The Seoul Gangseo Police Station said the patient’s medical charts were allegedly mixed up with another patient’s. The nurse and doctor in charge also allegedly failed to check her information before the operation, according to The Korea Herald.
The woman only found out that she lost her baby the next day, when she returned to the clinic after experiencing bloody discharge.
In April, the South Korean court ruled that the country’s abortion ban is unconstitutional and needed to be revised by the end of 2020. However, abortion remains illegal in the country except in certain instances, including rape or disease. Currently, women who undergo illegal abortions face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 2 million won (US$1,700).
Doctors, on the other hand, can only be charged if the abortion was intentional and not accidental, police told The New York Times. Because South Korean law does not consider a foetus a human being, the doctor and nurse in this recent case cannot be charged with accidental homicide. Pressing charges of abortion without consent was considered but could not be applied considering the patient didn’t know she was having an abortion and couldn’t have expressed consent or not, The Korea Herald reported. Instead, the police plan to charge the doctor and nurse of inflicting accidental injury.
About 50,000 abortions were performed in South Korea last year, according to CNN, although the real number is likely higher considering it is still criminalised.