Thursday South Korea’s constitutional court ruled the decades old ban on abortion is unconstitutional. The current law criminalizes abortion. Pro-abortion activists were elated and gathered near the courthouse in what they’re calling a victorious court ruling.
Although South Korea is one of the few remaining countries to criminalize infantacide (except for rape, incest, severe genetic anomalies or when the mother’s life is in jeopardy). As the current law stands, physicians who perform abortions can be imprisoned for up to two years and women who terminate their pregnancy (let us be straightforward, murder their unborn child) can receive a maximum of one-year sentence or can be fined up to 2m won (approximately $1,760).
This is seen as a historic court ruling as abortion has been illegal since 1953. The nine-member panel ruled 7-2 that the 66 year old abortion law is unconstitutional and new legislation must be written by South Korean legislators.
In the decision the court stated:
The abortion ban limits women’s rights to pursue their own destinies, and violates their rights to health by limiting their access to safe and timely procedures.
Embryos completely depend on the mother’s body for their survival and development, so it cannot be concluded that they are separate, independent living beings entitled to the right to life.
The debuty Asia director of Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization stated:
It’s about time South Korea heeded the voices of the majority of South Korean women who have today won the right to determine what happens with their bodies and their lives. Now the National Assembly needs to move without delay to revise the law in line with this far-reaching court verdict and ensure women’s rights are protected in law.
The current law is still in effect, however in the Constitutional Court ruling it stated that legislators must rewrite the law based on their ruling by the end of this year.
Anti-abortion activists that had also gather outside the courthouse are deeply saddened by the court’s decision. One of those protesters, Joon Il-kim, a mathematics professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, said:
I feel very sad. […] I do not agree with the decision. There’s a discrepancy between women’s rights and [an unborn] baby’s rights — it is a small human on its own.
Anti-abortion activists declared that they will continue to fight for the right to life for unborn children.
[Editor’s Note: HT Alex Reid]
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