South Korea Still Blocking Abortion

Government’s Refusal to Update Laws Part of Wider Gender Discrimination

Susanné Seong-eun Bergsten, Officer, Women's Rights Division
June 11, 2024

Years after a South Korean court ordered the government to respect the right to access abortion care, South Korean women and girls are still unable to get this necessary sexual and reproductive service.

On May 17, a South Korean court rejected an appeal by Women on Web (WoW), a nongovernmental organization that provides information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and Open Net Korea, a digital rights civil society organization, to unblock the WoW website. The Korea Communications Standards Commission blocked the website in 2019, claiming it violated the country’s Pharmaceutical Affairs Act by connecting women in need of abortion pills, which have not been legalized in the country, to overseas pharmacists.


South Korea’s Abortion Dilemma: Legal Ambiguity Leaves Women in Limbo

By Md. Imran Wahab
March 10, 2024

The intricate predicament surrounding abortion in South Korea results from a multitude of factors involving law, politics, society, and ethics. While the Constitutional Court's decision in 2019 to declare the criminalization of abortion as unconstitutional was a noteworthy advancement for women's reproductive rights, it also recognized the importance of decriminalizing abortion and upholding women's control over their bodies. Nonetheless, the absence of concrete legislative changes following this ruling has left the legality of abortion in a state of ambiguity, causing confusion and moral quandaries for women seeking abortion procedures.

In South Korea, the issue of abortion is a complex and uncertain one, causing difficulties for women like 33-year-old Kim. Despite not wanting to get married or become a mother, Kim found herself unexpectedly pregnant and turned to the internet for information on abortion. However, the advertisements she found varied in price and she was unsure of the legal status of the procedure.


Abortion in S. Korea: neither illegal nor legal

Despite 2019 Constitutional Court order, revision of abortion laws remains pending in National Assembly

By Lee Jaeeun
March 7, 2024

A 33-year-old woman surnamed Kim, living in Seoul, was taken by surprise when she found out she was pregnant late last year.

With no intention of getting married or having a child on her own, she began searching for hospitals that would terminate the pregnancy for her. While searching online, Kim encountered numerous advertisements and blogs listing prices for abortions by vacuum aspiration. The prices varied according to the stage of pregnancy: 600,000 won ($450) before week 7 and 900,000 won before week 10.


How will overturning Roe v. Wade affect abortion pill in Korea?

Kim Chan-hyuk  
Published 2022.07.04

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe V. Wade ending the constitutional right to abortion on June 24, attention is on how the ruling will impact prescriptions of abortion-inducing medications.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 that recognized women’s “right to privacy” in the Fourteenth Amendment, which protected a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus can survive on its own outside the womb.


South Korea’s Constitutional Right to Abortion

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.”


International coalition to support filing of a suit to stop South Korea’s shutdown of

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, 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 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.


South Korea – Opinions divided over bridging study for abortion pill Mifegymiso

Kim Chan-hyuk
Published 2021.09.13

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.


South Korea – ’Abortion consultation’ included in health insurance

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.


South Korea – Regulator cautious about approving abortion drug Mifegymiso

Kim Chan-hyuk  
Published 2021.07.12

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.


Hyundai Pharm to supply abortion pill Mifegyne in Korea

기자명 Kim Chan-hyuk
Published 2021.03.03

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.