SOUTH KOREA – Justice Ministry Committee recommends repealing the current anti-abortion law

In April 2020, a coalition of women’s associations held a protest and a press conference in front of the National Assembly (photo above) to commemorate the first anniversary of the Constitutional Court’s ruling, calling for swift action to repeal the law. “The reality faced by South Korean women who have to endure violence and the stigma associated with abortion has not changed,” said Na Young, head of Share, an advocacy group for women’s rights. The government and the National Assembly should act to protect women who have an abortion, and not leave them to suffer alone.”

It is now more than a year since the Constitutional Court’s landmark ruling in April 2019 that the current law was unconstitutional because it violated women’s right to choose. At the time, the court gave the National Assembly until the end of the year to revise the law. They said the law would become null and void if the deadline was not respected.

According to two articles in the Criminal Code, which dates back to 1953, a woman who “causes a miscarriage on herself through the use of drugs or other means” will be punished with a prison sentence of one year or a fine of up to two million won (US$1,685). A doctor who performs an abortion with the consent of his patient may also be punished with imprisonment of up to two years and up to three years if it is without her consent.

The Justice Ministry said on 21 August 2020 that it is working to revise the law. They said the government’s final position on this issue has yet to be decided and will work to hear more advice and amend the law by the end of 2020. The Ministry’s Gender Equality Commission also made their first policy recommendations – that the Justice Ministry should guarantee a woman’s right to choose in line with the South Korean Constitution and the national law on gender equality, and in line with CEDAW.

It was not stated in the news report whether the current law has become null and void as the Constitutional Court had ruled it would. SOURCE: YONHAP News Agency, by Woo Jae-yeon, 21 August 2020 (y en français)