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North Korean defectors report forced abortion and infanticide

Warning – this article contains information that some readers may find distressing.

Defectors from North Korea report that forced abortions and infanticide are among the many human rights violations that take place in the country, with forced abortions taking place as late as 8 months gestation.

Korea Future, a non-profit that investigates human rights abuses in North Korea, has helped to collate the experiences of more than 200 people who have managed to escape the dictatorship in North Korea.

The co-director in Seoul, Suyeon Yoo told the BBC that the prison system, and the violence within it, was being used to “suppress a population of 25 million people”.

“In every interview we conduct [with a North Korean defector], we witness how this has impacted human lives. One interviewee cried as she recounted witnessing the killing of a newborn baby”.

In addition to the multiple reports of rape and sexual assault that took place while detained by North Korean authorities, survivors told Korea Future that they were forced to undergo abortions. In one instance in North Hamgyong Provincial Holding Centre, one escapee witnessed another detainee being forced to have an abortion while she was 8 months pregnant. She reported that the baby survived the abortion, but was then drowned in a basin of water.

Forced abortion and infanticide

Reports of forced abortions and infanticide in North Korea have been coming out of the region for years. In a United Nations Human Rights report, 100 women shared ‘heartbreaking’ first-hand accounts of the suffering they and their babies have suffered while in North Korean detention centres.

Researchers found abortions were routinely conducted without the consent of the women detainees and often through violence.

Additionally, they were told about “the killing of new-born babies and the death of women due to lack of medical assistance”.

‘No medical attention’

In one tragic incident of infanticide, one woman’s baby was killed by officials after surviving a forced premature delivery. The mother reportedly died one week later because she had not received any medical assistance.

The eyewitness account states: “She was taken out of the holding centre and given an injection to make her miscarry. I saw her giving birth with my own eyes… I heard crying, but then the baby was placed face down, wrapped in plastic and taken out of the cell by a prison guard… No medical attention was given [to the mother]. She died after a week or so”.

Left to die in the cold

In another incident, one woman told researchers she may have witnessed a baby left to die in temperatures well below freezing after officials had tortured her heavily pregnant mother to induce premature labour.

She said: “The guards put bricks on her back, and forced her to walk around. She had to walk with the bricks every day for a week or so. She eventually gave birth. The baby was alive when born. I was told to wrap the baby and put it outside. The woman had to work the following day”.

The witness did not see what happened to the baby, but believes the baby may have been left to die in sub-zero conditions during North Korea’s winter.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The barbarity being reported in North Korea is shocking. Forced abortion is not restricted to North Korea, however, and is a barbaric practice that we must work to end, wherever it happens”.

Dear reader,

Thanks to your support, earlier this year the abortion lobby failed to pass two extreme abortion up to birth amendments tabled by Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Diana Johnson.

Unfortunately, this is not the end for our opposition. 

In the new Parliament, we will be facing major threats on not just one but three fronts: assisted suicide; experimentation on human embryos; and abortion up to birth:

  1. The first threat is from the assisted suicide lobby. The new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, has not only voted in favour of making assisted suicide legal in the past but also pledged ahead of the election that he would make time for MPs to vote on the introduction of assisted suicide. Now that he has been elected, we will be facing a big battle to stop assisted suicide from being legalised. To attempt to secure this law change, the assisted suicide lobby, led by the multi-million-pound outfit, Dignity in Dying, is expected to significantly ramp up their campaigning to put pressure on MPs to vote in support of introducing assisted suicide.
  2. The second threat is from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and their allies in biotech firms that undertake experimentation on the most vulnerable, precious and unique tiny babies - human embryos. These groups are running a major campaign to remove the 14-day limit from current legislation, so that scientists will be able to experiment on human embryos / unborn babies up to when they are 28 days or four weeks gestation. At around 22 days, the central nervous system begins to form and by 28 days, the heart has begun to beat, the brain has begun to develop and a baby’s eyes, ears and nose have started to emerge.
  3. The third threat is from the abortion lobby. Earlier this year the abortion lobby failed to pass two extreme abortion up to birth amendments that Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Diana Johnson tabled. The abortion lobby, led by BPAS and MSI Reproductive Choices (formerly Marie Stopes International), has made it clear that they will be working with pro-abortion MPs to try and force through major changes to our abortion laws that would allow abortion up to birth. A law change that allows abortion up to birth was passed in New Zealand in 2020 by the then Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s Government, and that country saw a 43% increase in late-term abortions in the same year. 

If these three major threats from our opposition are successful, thousands of lives will be lost.

This year we successfully ran our biggest campaign in 26 years to fight the abortion lobby’s abortion up to birth amendments. This has used a considerable amount of Right To Life UK's limited resources since our last appeal for donations from supporters last year.

To cover this gap and ensure we effectively defeat these proposals during the coming months, we are aiming to raise at least £100,000 by midnight on Sunday 14 July.

We are, therefore, appealing to you to please give as generously as you can. Every single donation, no matter how small, will go towards saving the lives of the unborn and many others.

By stopping these threats, YOU can save lives over this coming period.

Will you make a donation now to help protect vulnerable lives from these threats?