News and Commentary

Another Domino Falls: South Korea Lifts 70-Year Anti-Abortion Law

The Western satellite state of South Korea let itself succumb to the worst of Western impulses this week when the country’s top court declared a 70-year ban on abortion in most cases to be unconstitutional. South Korean lawmakers now have until the end of 2020 to draft a new law permitting the murderous practice.

The 7-2 ruling on Thursday (ironically, the exact same ratio as Roe v. Wade) dictated that 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.” As is the case with every one of these rulings, the well-being or humanity of the unborn child played no factor in the final outcome.

According to HuffPost, the restrictive anti-abortion law effectively banned the procedure in all cases except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Passed in 1953 at the end of the Korean War, the law also permitted punishments for both women and doctors who procured abortions. Women were also required to have spousal approval in the rare exceptions where abortions were permitted. Thursday’s ruling resulted from an abortion doctor facing criminal charges for performing over 69 illegal abortions.

The ruling also made the claim that unborn babies cannot be treated as an independent entity due to their dependency on the mother’s body.

According to Reuters, the lawyer representing the plaintiff said that the ruling will “free women from shackles.” Feminist activists also celebrated the ruling with the same fervor.

Amnesty International also hailed the decision as a victory for “women’s rights.” Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s East Asia Research Director, issued a lengthy statement in which she denounced the prior law as “draconian” while championing the rights of women, oblivious to the fact that scores (millions probably) of unborn girls will die as a result of abortion’s legalization:

Today’s ruling is a major step forward for the human rights of women and girls in South Korea.

The country’s draconian laws have resulted in discrimination and stigmatization for generations of women and girls by forcing them to undergo clandestine and unsafe abortions. The Constitutional Court has sent a clear message this must change, and in future the human rights of women and girls must be fully protected and respected.

We urge the government to swiftly reform the Criminal Act and ensure access to safe and legal abortion services. The highly restrictive and punitive laws must change so that the health of women, girls and others who can become pregnant is no longer put at risk for fear they or the medical professionals that help them could be punished.

Abortions will always happen, regardless of the law. This judgment means that they should be carried out safely and legally, and that women and girls are treated with compassion and respect for their human rights and their reproductive autonomy. Their dignity must be front and centre in any new legal framework on abortion.

Last year, the Catholic nation of Ireland voted to overturn a constitutional amendment by legalizing abortion.