South Korea to lift decades-old abortion law
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 4/11/19, 12:29 pm
The South Korean Constitutional Court on Thursday overturned a 65-year-old law protecting unborn babies from abortion. Under the 1953 law, women who underwent abortions could face fines and imprisonment, except in cases of rape, incest, or health risks. In a 7-2 ruling, the court said the abortion law and another one that subjected abortionists to criminal charges were unconstitutional. South Korea was one of the last few developed nations with broad legal protection for unborn babies, though the law was rarely enforced. According to judicial data, authorities prosecuted only eight new cases in 2017 and 24 in 2016, Reuters reported.
“The law criminalizing a woman who undergoes abortion of her own will goes beyond the minimum needed to achieve the legislative purpose and limits the right of self-determination of the woman who has become pregnant,” the ruling stated. The court ordered the government to revise the law by the end of 2020. Parliament might still decide to add protections for babies in the late stages of pregnancy, The New York Times reported.
Ahead of the ruling, hundreds of pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators gathered outside the court. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea expressed “deep regret” over the decision. “It denies a fetus its basic right to life,” the group said in a statement. “Abortion is the crime of killing an innocent life during pregnancy.”
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