Minji's story is collected especially for the SHHH project. All informants and stories in this project have been anonymised. All names are changed.
At the time of the abortion, I was too young, and I felt pathetic and terrible. It was the most fearful thing to let my family know. Should I ask my boyfriend's parents to get an abortion? Should I run away somewhere and secretly give birth to a baby alone? After thinking about it, I had to have an abortion.
I wanted to go to college and there was a lot of things I wanted to do, but I was pregnant! I did not want to marry my boyfriend. He was a terrible man with no financial stability, so I could not introduce him to my family. I did not want to ruin my life with one mistake.
I think all girls who have an abortion in their teens are like me. I did not want to tell anyone. It was just embarrassing. It was so painful. But I think it is right that it should be entirely my choice to have an abortion. This is my body, and I am the owner of my body.
I searched the internet for everything from abortion hospitals to surgery expenses. Abortion is illegal. Nevertheless, all the hospitals I had consulted on the phone said they could perform abortions. But when I went to the hospital for counselling, they asked me to bring my boyfriend or my parents. When I confessed that I could not bring anyone, they clearly informed me: “If you cannot bring them, the surgical costs for abortion will be double or triple.” They said it could cost over a million won (approximately 840,- USD). I searched the internet again and I went to the cheapest hospital.
As soon as the doctor saw me, she immediately noticed that I was young and unmarried. She asked only two things. “Are you going to have an abortion right now? And did you come with a husband or your parents?” Then she told me to return to her office after getting a preliminary counsel with a staff in charge. In the counsel room, the staff asked if I was with my husband and if he agreed. I said he could not come with me. She said she needed my husband’s consent to abortion by phone.
After she called him and checked his social security number, I had an abortion. The situation was all so terrifying. Of course, it is true that I was disappointed with myself. However, I felt so neglected in the hospital, and I was treated as a woman who sleeps around.
The truth is that I was a human being who had no choice but to have an abortion. I should have been protected by the hospital, but I could not feel it under such a high-pressure. It was impossible to say that I have human rights and that I have the right to have an abortion. Even now, when I think of that moment, I am so afraid. I oppose the social atmosphere that makes women who have an abortion feel guilty. No woman wants an abortion.
I think the sexual education taught in school is so formal in Korea that it is useless. Most teenagers know sex well. Teens know more about sex than adults think. However, teachers do not educate enough about the importance of contraception in school. There are so many contradictions, I think. And if there would be a reasonable single mother policy, abortions would be less frequent than now.
And, frankly speaking, I am worried that it would be difficult to get pregnant again because I had an abortion in my teens. I love babies and I want children.