58% of the public favor removing the ban

South Korea will legalize abortion by 2020

BBC reports that South Korea’s ban on abortion will be removed by the end of 2020.

Since 1953, abortion has been illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment. Abortions are only legal in the cases of rape, incest or health risks.

Under the 1953 law, doctors who perform abortion procedures could also be prosecuted with jail sentences.

58% of the South Korean public are in favour of abolishing the abortion ban.

On Thursday, a nine-member court panel ruled by seven to two that the abortion ban was unconstitutional.

“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,” the court said in a statement.

“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 court asked the national assembly to amend the law by the end of 2020.

A survey by the Korean Women’s Development Institute found that one in five women who had been pregnant underwent an abortion. Only 1% of them had legal exemptions.

In 2017, an estimated 50,000 abortions were carried out.

Outside the court, pro-abortion protesters cheered at the announcement.

“Women deserve to be happy as much as we want to be today,” said Bae Bok-ju, an activist. “Today’s decision was made because countless women ceaselessly fought for their rights for so many years. We deserve the world’s attention and we deserve its recognition.”