South Korea must end abortion ban by 2020, says court

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South Korea’s ban on abortion has been ruled unconstitutional in a historic court decision.

The country’s constitutional court ordered that the law must be revised by the end of 2020.

Under the 1953 ban, women who have abortions can be fined and imprisoned, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to their health. Doctors who perform the procedure can also face jail.

South Korea is one of the few developed countries to criminalise abortion.

On Wednesday an opinion poll found 58% of the public favour abolishing the ban.

The law was reviewed after a challenge from a female doctor who was prosecuted for performing almost 70 abortions. She said the ban endangered women and limited their rights.

The push for change comes from a burgeoning movement fighting for women’s rights in South Korea. Pro-choice campaigners say the abortion ban is part of a broader bias against women in the country.

South Korea is home to a large number of evangelical Christians, however and some want abortion to remain illegal because they say it forces women to think deeply about the decision.