South Korea: Court, with UN Prodding, Seeks Legalized Abortion
Friday, April 19, 2019
The Constitution Court in South Korea ruled that the 1953 ban on abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to health, must be changed by the National Assembly by December 2020 to partially allow access to abortion in the first trimester in a challenge brought by female doctor prosecuted for performing 70 illegal abortions over a four-year time period.
According to a news report,the ruling by the nine justice panel "will mean the end of longstanding but little enforced criminal laws under which abortion was punishable by up to a year in prison for women who undergo the procedure, and up to two years for medical providers. Seven of nine justices found the law inconsistent with the constitution, saying it 'violates a pregnant woman's right to self determination."
The panel ruled that if the National Assembly fails to act the current law would be repealed. There is no judicial appeal process and current restrictions and regulations on abortion will remain in effect until they are replaced or repealed.
"The abortion ban limits women's rights to pursue their own destinies, and violates their rights to health by limiting their access to safe and timely procedures," the court said in a statement.
"Embryos completely depend on the mother's body for their survival and development, so it cannot be concluded that they are separate, independent living beings entitled to the right to life."
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul responded to the decision through his Easter message stating, "A nation has a responsibility to protect its people's lives and safety under any circumstances. Every life, from the moment of conception, should be protected as a human being and secured with its dignity."
Members of the United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice (WGDAW)--"an independent expert mechanism, known as Special Procedures of the  United Nations Human Rights Council"--interjected itself in the case by filing an amicus briefReview of the constitutionality of the country's criminal law on abortion (case 2017Hun-Ba127). The WGDAW submission urged the legalization of abortion on the grounds of non-discrimination and equality for women.  
The submission to the Court was laden with pro-abortion arguments, propaganda, and hyperbole including this falsehood on the legalization of abortion in "economically more developed countries": "This liberalization reflects the understanding that personhood is not established until birth. Under international human rights law, human rights are accorded to those who have been born."
The group referenced observations issued to South Korea from two treaty monitoring bodies, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stating, "Specifically, the Republic of Korea has been requested by treaty monitoring bodies to decriminalize abortion, remove punitive measures for women who undergo abortion and provide women with access to high-quality post-abortion care." The CESCR also called on South Korea to "ensure that sexual and reproductive health services are made available and accessible to all."
The WGDAW concluded, "....women's access to safe legal termination of pregnancy is a matter of women's human rights, including the rights to equality, to dignity, autonomy, bodily integrity and respect for private life and the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health, without discrimination. Under international human rights law, the State has a legal obligation to take appropriate measures to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of these rights."
"Criminalization of behaviour that is attributed only to women is discriminatory per se and generates and perpetuates stigma. The State has an immediate obligation to repeal laws and reverse policies which discriminate against women. This includes laws that restrict, prohibit or criminalize termination of pregnancy and procedural barriers that restrict access to safe health services. The elimination of discrimination against women in the area of reproductive and sexual health and rights is essential for their enjoyment of rights in other fields. The primacy of women's right to equality should apply in all areas of life and prevail over other considerations."
Not surprisingly, pro-abortion entities Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Asia were actively engaged in South Korea.  Human Rights Watch's women's rights director stating, "Decisions about abortion belong to a pregnant woman, without penalty or interference by the government or anyone else."