Part of the reasons why the anti-revisionists have been very successful in opposing the change has been the use of the article from the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, where in Article 7 it states,
1.The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
2.States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
While I strongly support this and agree that as much as possible those children should be registered, this article does not specifically say that children must be registered into their birth parents. The statement “as far as possible” allows that there may be circumstances where this is not possible. This leaves a door open where birthmothers should be allowed to lawfully relinquish their children without registering. Also, the main purpose of the registry is to have the right to a name and the right to acquire a nationality, which I presume is designed to benefit from the provisions a country provides as an equal citizen. Children can be registered and have their own identity even without birth parents, as they can be registered by legal guardians or institution directors. The only thing that would lack is that they wouldn’t have the information on birth parents.
The anti-revisionists have used the Article 7 very successively through media outlets to argue for the birth registry requirement in the special adoption law and strongly opposed any changes.
In the mean time the number of children being abandoned has increased. Many of the birthmothers are too young to care for them, nor have any desires or means to raise them. Although many have tried to call or visit the adoption agencies to discuss the relinquishments of their babies, the agencies have all turned them away as they cannot legally accept the children without them first being registered by their birthmothers.
Unable to safely and legally relinquish the children they do not want, some have taken drastic actions such as abandoning them in subways, streets, restrooms, trash bins, hospitals, and in some cases killed and discarded. And then there was the Baby Box, where before the law was enacted, would normally see two or three abandonments per month, but immediately after the law was enacted, the abandonment at the Baby Box shot up to 20 children per month.
While the revisionists have used this type data to justify the need for the revision of the law, the anti-revisionists fought back claiming that the data really does not conclusively support that it was the special adoption law that caused the rise in the abandonment. In fact, they claim, the heavy media exposure of the Baby Box has encouraged more birthmothers to abandon their babies, and called that the Baby Box was illegal and should be shut down. The worst part of all this is that the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), the social welfare arm of the Korean government, has joined the anti-revisionists and staunchly opposed to any changes to the law. It was their law to begin with, and why should they admit that there was any flaw with the law.
And they never forget to point back to the Article 7 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, saying that the law was in keeping with the globally accepted convention that is adopted by many nations, and that Korea must move ahead to adopt the world standard.
But there is just one flaw with this argument.
According to the same UN Convention of the Rights they love to quote, it states in Article 6,
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
In an effort to enforce the Article 7, there have been many children’s lives lost, and many more children have been abandoned. Not only that the law is such that these abandoned children are not adoptable and must grow up in institutions – all because they were not registered.
The Article 6 precedes what’s stated in Article 7, and it is placed ahead of Article 7 because of its importance. In as much as I agree that children should be registered per Article 7, if the culture of a country does not make this a favorable environment for birthmothers, and in the process endangers the lives of many children, the law needs to change to preserve the lives of children.
The UN Convention of the Rights does not stop there. It states in Article 3, Section 1,
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
If the forceful registration of babies causes danger to the newborn babies, despite the fact that this was an action under the “courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies”, then this action by the authority needs to be questioned, as it is clearly evident that their law has resulted in the loss of many children, and significantly hindered many children from finding homes. This is clearly not the case of having a primary consideration in “the best interests of the child”.
What good is the registration and what good is having a good record, or identifying a child if such law causes many birthmothers choose to abandon or kill their babies? Any yet the anti-revisionists speak about the birth registry as the fundamental human rights that children must have while they ignore the higher and more important ‘right to life and the best interests’ through the proclamations made in Article 3 and Article 6.
This is the very reason why they try so hard to discredit that the birth registry requirement in the special adoption law was the reason why there are so many babies abandoned.The data clearly shows that there have been many babies abandoned, starting right after the implementation of the law.