South Korea’s constitutional court has voted to lift the country’s ban on abortion.
The ban was lifted after 66 years on Thursday, in a landmark decision that will allow South Korean women the option to terminate a pregnancy. The medical procedure will be decriminalized by the end of 2020.
“The (current law) limits a pregnant woman’s right to choose freely, which is against the principle that an infringement on a person’s right must be kept to a minimum,” the judgment said.
Seven out of nine judges declared that the current penalizing of abortion was, in fact, “unconstitutional” and ordered the parliament to revise the law that was enacted in 1953.
This historic decision comes as the East Asian nation is experiencing a forward moving women’s rights movement, inspired by the influence of the global #MeToo campaign and a revolt against patriarchal values.
Under the current law, the procedure is only legal in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy presents a serious health risk to the mother. Any woman caught having an abortion outside of these limitations could face a one-year prison sentence and a fine, while the medical professionals involved could be jailed for up to two years.
Meanwhile, in the US, candidates, and lawmakers in several states including South Carolina, Idaho, and Ohio are pushing bills to criminalize abortion and even penalize women with the death penalty. A proposed law in Texas was just shot down this week.