Activists Fought Hard for Change
Lina Yoon, Senior Researcher, Asia Division
June 9, 2022
Abortion was decriminalized in South Korea by court order in 2021, and millions of women breathed sighs of relief.
In April 2019, South Korea’s Constitutional Court had ruled that making abortion a criminal offense was unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to revise the laws by the end of 2020. The judges said women and girls should have up to 22 weeks into their pregnancy to allow “sufficient time to make and carry out a holistic decision.”
March 11, 2022
Women on Web
On December 13, 2020, the Korea Communication Standards Commission (KCSC) issued a ruling to block South Korea’s access to womenonweb.kr, Women on Web’s website that provides information on women’s health, sexual and reproductive rights, medical abortion, and thereby helps women to obtain safe, timely and affordable abortion care, charging that the website facilitates sale of unprescribed drugs by non-pharmacists.
The ruling to block the website follows a similar ruling on womenonweb.org that was issued on March 11, 2019. the undersigned organizations including Open Net, Women on Web International Foundation, Human Rights Watch are concerned that KCSC’s ruling blindly follows a request to KCSC by Korea’s Food and Drug Agency (KFDA) to block the site within Korea for distributing drugs in ways unapproved, without an independent professional analysis based on communications governance and excessively restricts women’s access to knowledge.
Pro-choice groups and health experts have expressed split opinions on whether to conduct a bridging trial of Mifegymiso (ingredient: mifepristone/misoprostol), an abortion drug that will arrive in Korea soon.
A bridging trial aims to obtain clinical data for Koreans when it is difficult to apply foreign clinical trial results due to differences in ethnic factors.
By Lee Hyo-jin
Women are now able to receive medical consultations on abortion legally and at a reasonable price, as the medical service has been newly included in the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Monday.
The health ministry announced the inclusion as a follow-up measure to a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court in April 2019 which found the ban on abortion was unconstitutional because prohibiting it in the early stages of pregnancy was a violation of women's right to self-determination.
Hyundai Pharm recently applied for marketing approval for Mifegymiso, an abortion pill, but the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) remained passive to accelerate the review process.
Industry watchers are questioning why the regulator has reversed its stance after promising accelerated approval for the drug.
기자명 Kim Chan-hyuk
Hyundai Pharm made it official that it will supply Mifegyne, an abortive drug, in Korea. Industry watchers said the supply could open ways for medication abortion.
However, as the company is preparing for the regulator’s preliminary review before seeking the nod, it will take a considerable time until a pregnant woman gets a Mifegyne prescription, observers said.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung submitted a statement to National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug on Monday, raising concerns over a delay in parliamentary revisions to the country's anti-abortion law.
The Constitutional Court decided last year that an outright ban on abortion goes against the Constitution, calling for legal amendments by the end of this year to partially allow abortions in the early stages of pregnancy.
Feminists do not think its proposal goes far enough. Opponents of abortion are also up in arms
Nov 21st 2020
The worst thing about it was the shame. “I worried about how other people would judge me for doing something illegal, what my parents and my friends would say if they found out,” says Kim Min-kyoung, a 24-year-old student from Seoul who decided to terminate a pregnancy last year. The second-worst thing was paying: how to find $1,000 without prompting awkward questions.
Both these problems should soon be slightly less severe for women in South Korea. If a bill under consideration by the National Assembly becomes law, a woman will be able to obtain an abortion up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy with ease. From 15 to 24 weeks in, she will still be able to do so provided she attends a counselling session and waits 24 hours before making a final decision. Her reason for ending the pregnancy must also fall into one of a series of approved categories. This regime would greatly expand access to abortion and thus put an end to expensive illicit procedures. It has prompted an unsurprising backlash from anti-abortion activists, but feminists are not entirely happy either.
Continued, behind paywall: https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/11/21/south-koreas-government-is-making-it-easier-to-get-an-abortion
The clash between the right to choose and right to life continues here in South Korea. The constitutional court's historic ruling last year that abortions should not be criminalized didn't end the contentious debate.
Under the ruling, the country has until the end of 2020 to revise its 1953 law on terminating pregnancies. The government has introduced an amendment that doesn't repeal the ban on abortion completely, but revises parts of the Criminal Act and the Mother and Child Health Act to allow terminations up to 14 weeks, and up to 24 weeks provided that there are medical or socio-economic reasons approved by the doctor.
Conservatives and religious groups are facing off with women's rights organizations in a fierce debate over changes to a 1953 law that makes abortion illegal.
The South Korean government has announced plans to reverse the blanket ban on abortions that was imposed in 1953 and revise the law to permit a termination before the 14th week of a pregnancy. The proposed changes have been strongly criticized by both sides of the argument.
Last week, the government announced that it will alter sections of both the Criminal Act and the Mother and Child Health Act that refer to abortion. The changes will also allow abortions up to a maximum of 24 weeks for women with extenuating medical or economic circumstances, if a genetic disorder is identified in the baby or if they have been the victim of a rape.