South Korean court rules abortion ban must be lifted

Historic decision sparks celebrations in Seoul following decades of campaigning

A court in South Korea has ruled that the country’s decades-old ban on abortion must be lifted, in a historic decision that sparked celebrations in Seoul.

Thursday’s decision by the constitutional court marks a major victory for pro-choice campaigners, 66 years after the country banned abortions in all but a few cases.

Under the current law, doctors who perform terminations can be imprisoned for up to two years, while women face a maximum one-year sentence or a fine of up to 2m won (£1,341).

The nine-member panel ruled by seven to two that a 1953 law banning abortion was unconstitutional and ordered the national assembly to revise it by the end of next year.

South Korea is one of the few developed countries that still criminalises abortions, with exemptions made for rape, incest, severe genetic disorders or when the mother’s health is in danger.

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