October 07, 2020 12:27
The government is seeking to legalize abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy, a relatively long period by international standards.
The decision follows a ruling by the Constitutional Court in April last year that the law prohibiting abortion is unconstitutional.
According to the Justice Ministry on Tuesday, the relevant laws will be revised to permit abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy, or the 24th week in cases of rape or if an expecting mother's life is in danger.
The public has around 40 days to voice their opinions before the revisions are put to the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court based its decision on the assumption that a fetus can survive on its own at around 22 weeks of pregnancy, which it viewed as the starting point of the fetus' right to life and the possible maximum period when abortion is permissible.
Since the ruling, prosecutors have dropped any cases against women who had an abortion within 12 weeks of pregnancy if they were raped or had other pressing reasons.
But the prohibition is at any rate rarely enforced. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 15.8 out of every 1,000 women in Korea had abortions in 2018, the fourth highest number in the OECD.
The U.S. allows abortions until the 12th to 24th week of pregnancy depending on the state. Germany, Denmark, Italy and Spain allow abortions until the 12th week of pregnancy.
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