Seoul, South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday as “unconstitutional” the current ban on abortion and called for its amendment in a landmark decision that signals a major change in various aspects of society.
South Korea is one of the few developed countries where abortion is criminalized.
The court called for a legislative change to partially allow the termination in the early stage of pregnancy and ordered that the law must be revised by the end of 2020, Yonhap news agency reported.
It also ruled that it was against the Constitution to punish physicians for carrying out the procedure.
Under the 1953 ban, women who procured abortions could be fined and imprisoned, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to their health.
The abortion law was reviewed after a challenge from a female doctor who said the ban endangered women and limited their rights.
Pro-choice activists celebrated when the ruling was announced, while anti-abortion campaigners were left in tears, according to the BBC.
The broadcaster reported that the push for the ban to be lifted came from a burgeoning movement fighting for women’s rights in South Korea. Campaigners who favoured an end to the ban said it was part of a broader bias against women in the country.