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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, August 5, 2001: Temples in South Korea have begun offering special ceremonies for women to pray for the foetuses they have aborted. The ritual, called naktae chondoje or offering ceremony for aborted foetuses, lasts for 49 days, the usual duration of a Buddhist funeral ceremony. Besides fruit and sweets, the women also make offerings of milk, instead of the traditional wine, to appease the restless spirits during the ceremony. Koodamsa, a Buddhist temple run by women, is one of several such temples in South Korea now offering these special ceremonies. The Venerable Ji Yul explained that by providing this service, she hopes to help women cleanse themselves of the guilt they feel at taking a life and eventually reduce the number of abortions. Nearly 40 per cent of married women have had at least one abortion, a recent survey showed. But of more concern to the authorities is the fact that the abortion rate for young, single women appears to be on the rise. According to estimates, more than one million abortions take place in South Korea every year, which is roughly twice the number of babies born. Forty-nine percent of South Koreans are Christian, 47% are Buddhists.