Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Korean Court Says Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

FILE - South Korean acting Constitutional Court's Chief Judge Lee Jung-mi (center) and seven judges during final ruling of President Park Geun-hye's impeachment at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017.

Juhyun Lee contributed to this report.

SEOUL — A top South Korean court has ruled that the country’s criminal ban on abortion is unconstitutional. The ruling means the 66-year-old law could be nullified by the end of next year.

South Korea is one of very few developed countries with an anti-abortion law. That’s in large part because of an influential evangelical Christian community.

But polls have shown women, especially young women, support greater abortion rights.

Bae, a Seoul resident in her late 30s, says she thinks it is positive, as giving birth to a child determines a woman's life, and from now on, a woman can make such an important decision by herself.

Choi Ji-eun, a South Korean commentator who supports women’s rights, says restricting women's self-determination rights and punishing women as well as doctors intimidates women. He says it is a positive change that these acts will be abolished.

Under the current law, women who have abortions can be fined or imprisoned for up to a year. Doctors could be jailed for up to two years. In reality, the law was rarely enforced.

The ruling gives lawmakers until the end of 2020 to change the anti-abortion law. If they can’t do it by then, the ban will end.