Precise prenatal care and safe childbirth under the guidance of a qualified obstetrician are essential reproductive healthcare services that enhance the survival and wellbeing of mothers and newborns. However, during recent decades many maternity hospitals and clinics in Korea have closed, particularly those in rural areas. In addition, the number of obstetricians providing care for pregnant women is declining. This reduction in obstetric services is a growing political issue in Korea. Several policies and programs have tried to accelerate and expand the provision of essential maternity services, especially in rural areas, but there have been numerous barriers to overcome, including malpractice litigations. Now is the time to discuss the role of current and future government programs in the improvement of obstetric care and, moreover, to develop outlines for progress in underserved areas.