Prelates denounce South Korea abortion law reversal

Prelates denounce South Korea abortion law reversal Archbishop Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju with Pope Francis

South Korea’s Constitutional Court has ruled an abortion ban in the country to be unconstitutional, receiving mixed responses from Korean citizens.

Seven of the nine justices on the court voted to repeal the law on April 11, ordering it to be revised by 2020. Two of the justices dissented.

The law, which was established in 1953, banned abortion except in cases of rape, incest, foetal abnormalities and serious risks to the mother’s health.

Under the law, a woman who sought an abortion could face up to a year in prison or a $1,750 (€1,550) fine. A doctor who performed an abortion could face up to two years in prison.

The case was taken up by South Korea’s Constitutional Court after an obstetrician was persecuted for performing 69 illegal abortions during 2013 and 2015.

The repeal drew criticism from pro-life advocates. A statement signed by Archbishop Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, president of the bishops’ conference, said the court decision denies vulnerable human beings of their basic right to life. It also stated that the ruling unjustly excludes men from their responsibility in unplanned pregnancies.

The Archbishop of Seoul, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soojung, has been an outspoken critic of legalising abortion in South Korea’s national debates.

“We should instead strengthen institutions that can help women healthily give birth to babies and raise them by recognising a newborn’s life as responsibility shared by both women and men, as well as society,” he said.