In an effort to reverse North Korea’s decreasing birth rate, officials reportedly have banned medical professionals from performing birth control procedures and abortions, according to sources in the secluded country, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday. The directive ban reportedly bars gynecologists from performing abortions, although it does not indicate what the penalty for them will be for violating the ban. 

“This central policy was announced at a lecture for healthcare workers on Oct. 8,” a source in North Korea told Radio Free Asia's Korean Service. “The new policy says that birth control procedures are illegal, and gynecologists who implant birth control devices in their patients will be punished by law.” 

If doctors who are not gynecologists perform such procedures, they will be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison, according to the source, but the policy did not give details about punishments for a number of birth control procedures that could potentially be performed.

“Punishments for those who perform illegal abortions and use contraceptive devices are already in place, but this new policy bans all kinds of abortions and birth control procedures, including even those performed at hospitals,” said a source in the North Hamgyong province of North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported.


The birth rate for North Korea is ranked 134 out of 224 countries at 14.52 births per 1,000 persons, which is a significant decrease from the birth rate of  20.43 births per 1,000 in 2000, according to the CIA's World Factbook.  

Many parents encourage their daughters to have an intrauterine device inserted to prevent pregnancy because of the widespread prostitution and sexual assaults in the country, according to the sources. The ban on birth control procedures and abortions should be abolished because it “turns innocent people into criminals,” the sources said, Radio Free Asia reported.