UPDATE : 2023.9.17 Sun 23:40
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Korea's First Pregnant Same-sex Couple Gives Birth
  • By Jo Ah-bin, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2023.09.17 23:37
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▲ Two women spread their arms with their arms crossed (Source: pixabay)

On August 30, Kim Gyu- jin and Kim Se- yeon, the first same- sex couple in Korea to announce their pregnancy, gave birth to a daughter. On this day, Gyu- jin posted a simple text on her SNS, "O- Chul- Wan, this means that the birth was completed today," along with a photo of her raising her thumb. It was conveyed that after the Kims’ daughter, Ran- i, was born at around 4:30 a.m. on the day of childbirth, Gyu- jin's wife, Se- yeon, cut the umbilical cord and fulfilled her role as guardian.

On June 29, Gyu- jin revealed on social media that, “it has been four years since I introduced myself as, ‘a married lesbian of Korean nationality.’” "I'm going to add a word here soon," she said, revealing that she's, "in the eighth month of pregnancy." In addition, last July, a baby shower was held under the title of, "Korea's Low Birth Countermeasure Meeting," and received attention and support from many people. However, since same- sex couples are not yet officially recognized by law in Korea, their marriage relationship wasn’t recognized in Korea even though the Kims applied for marriage registration at Jongno- gu Office in Seoul in 2020. Therefore, because the two people are not a legal couple in Korea, they cannot receive legal protection or benefits as parents or as a married couple. In addition, her partner Kim Se- yeon cannot use maternity leave or parental leave, and her daughter, Ran- i, who was born healthy, is incorporated as a, "single- parent family."

Afterward, the couple was living in France, and in December of last year, they received sperm donations from an infertility clinic in Belgium and succeeded in becoming pregnant through artificial insemination. In Korea, the ethics guidelines of the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology state that, “sperm donation procedures are performed only on legally married couples,” but according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, “sperm donation procedures performed in the absence of a legal spouse are not prohibited by law, and there are no separate restrictions,” so whether or not to perform a sperm donation procedure depends on the judgment of each individual doctor. In response, Gyu- jin said, “In Korea, it is more difficult to find sperm than to find a maternity clinic that will perform the sperm provision operation.” In order to receive a 'sperm donation' from a domestic sperm bank, it is only possible if the husband is infertile, and since, "sperm purchase," is impossible, an individual's sperm must be donated in good faith.

Currently, "same- sex couples," are not legally recognized as formal couples in Korea, and although it is not, "illegal," for unmarried women to undergo external fertilization operation and sperm provision operation through sperm banks, there are clear limitations and difficulties. The problem here is that the, "Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology Ethics Guidelines for Assisted Reproductive Technology," obstructs them. The Maternal and Child Health Law defines, "infertility," as, "a condition in which a couple in a legal or common- law relationship cannot become pregnant even after one year despite a normal sexual life." Only infertile couples like this can receive assisted reproductive technology. The Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology interpreted this Mother and Child Health Law as the basis and created ethical guidelines for assisted reproductive technology. According to the guidelines revised in 2021, like the Mother and Child Health Law, external fertilization operations and sperm provision operations are, in principle, performed on legally married couples and common- law couples. Because domestic hospitals must follow ethical guidelines, it is difficult to perform IVF treatment on same- sex couples and single women, despite the Ministry of Health and Welfare's claims.

Meanwhile, notes of support and encouragement have flooded the Kims on social media. Kim Gyu- jin concluded by saying, “I hope that when my daughter, Ran- i, is around our age, it will be so natural for her to have two mothers that she will be asked, 'Did your mother even write a book related to same- sex couples?’” In the future, we hope that the Kim couple will live happily in a society that recognizes and respects the diversity of families.

By Jo Ah-bin, cub-reporter  opal_40@naver.com

<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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