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South Korea States ‘Law Criminalizing Abortion Unconstitutional’, May Strike Down Abortion Ban

Only eight new cases of illegal abortion were prosecuted in 2017, down from 24 in 2016, according to South Korean judicial data.

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South Korea
South Korean acting Constitutional Court's Chief Judge Lee Jung-mi (center) and seven judges during final ruling of President Park Geun-hye's impeachment at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017.VOA

South Korea’s Constitutional Court said Thursday a law criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional, a landmark ruling that will overturn a ban on abortion that had been in place since 1953.

The court said in a statement the outright ban on abortion, as well as a law that made doctors who conduct abortions with the woman’s consent liable to criminal charges, were both unconstitutional.

However, the court said the current law would remain in effect until the end of next year, after which it will be scrapped.

The court had previously upheld the abortion law in 2012 in a closely divided decision, dividing the eight justices evenly.

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The law also states that medical professionals including doctors who engage in abortion at the request of the woman will serve a prison sentence of two years or less, and have their license suspended for seven years. Pixabay

Law dates to 1953

“The law criminalizing a woman who undergoes abortion of her own will goes beyond the minimum needed to achieve the legislative purpose and limits the right of self-determination of the woman who has become pregnant,” the court said in its ruling.

South Korea’s ban on abortion dates from 1953, when the country’s criminal law was first enacted after the 1950-1953 Korean War, and had not changed materially since.

The law states that a woman who undergoes abortion will serve a prison sentence of one year or less, or pay a fine of 2 million won ($1,756.08) or less.

The law also states that medical professionals including doctors who engage in abortion at the request of the woman will serve a prison sentence of two years or less, and have their license suspended for seven years.

Exemptions

There are exemptions, with current law allowing abortions within 24 weeks of becoming pregnant for medical purposes such as a hereditary disease or the pregnancy causing grave danger to the health of the mother, or in the case of pregnancy through rape.

“If the case does not fall under an exemption, the law forces the pregnant woman to maintain the pregnancy completely and uniformly without exception even in cases where there are circumstances causing conflicts about abortion due to diverse, widespread societal and economic reasons,” the court said.

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“The law criminalizing a woman who undergoes abortion of her own will goes beyond the minimum needed to achieve the legislative purpose and limits the right of self-determination of the woman who has become pregnant,” the court said in its ruling. Pixabay

The court’s ruling reflects the trend toward decriminalizing abortion, as the number of actual cases where abortion was criminally punished had been falling.

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Only eight new cases of illegal abortion were prosecuted in 2017, down from 24 in 2016, according to South Korean judicial data. Out of the 14 abortion cases that were decided in lower courts in 2017, 10 postponed a ruling on condition that no crime be committed for a certain period.

The number of abortions in South Korea has been dropping as well, with the estimated number of abortions among women aged 15 to 44 at 49,764 in 2017, down from 342,433 in 2005 and 168,738 in 2010, because of the increased use of birth control and a drop in the total number of women aged 15-44, according to Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. (VOA)

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Top 5 Tourist Places in South Korea’s Incheon

Here are the top five attractions in Incheon, South Korea

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Incheon tourism
Consider sparing some time in Incheon when you visit South Korea and visit these tourist attractions. Pixabay

If you are headed to the Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea, chances are you will land in the Incheon International Airport, which is a short drive away from the mega city of Seoul. If you have some time to spare in Incheon, consider seeing these attractions.

Songdo Central Park

Songdo Central Park, a 1.8-kilometre seawater park is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. It has a walking path and a bicycle path, where visitors can take in the view of sunlight sparkling across the seawater as they enjoy a day out in the park. The view becomes even more mesmerizing after nightfall as the buildings light up around the park.

Visit the Deer farm here to see deer grazing on grass and Tribowl for a cultural space that offers various exhibitions, conferences and performances. Incheon has a river that crosses from east to west, where visitors can enjoy various water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, riding a family boat and more.

songdo Incheon
Songdo Central Park, a seawater park, is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. Pixabay

Moraenae Market

Located in the central area of Incheon in Guwol-dong, this traditional market was established in May 1982, when merchants started selling products on a sandy street using mere display stands. Moraenae Market first started as a wholesale market selling agricultural and fisheries products, then expanded to selling clothes, dishes, fisheries, and other diverse items. Due to the large traffic of customers compared to other traditional markets, Moraenae Market is known for keeping products up-to-date with fresh and trendy items.

National Institute of Biological Resources

The National Institute of Biological Resources is the largest collection preservation facility in Asia with approximately 6,000 species on display as of October 2019. Unlike some museums, all the specimens on display were collected from roadkills or those that faced natural deaths. Some of the species that can only be seen at this facility include Korean rose bitterling, Korean hare and white forsythia. Last fox specimen found in Korea can also be seen on display.

Incheon Grand Park

Incheon
The Incheon Subway system makes it easier to travel around. Pixabay

A treasure in the middle of the city, Incheon Grand Park is an urban nature park that provides greenery and fresh air. As the only large-scale nature park in Incheon, the park holds an arboretum, children zoo, bicycle square, rose garden and more. Various animals and plants can be seen at the arboretum and the zoo, while those looking for peace and relaxation can walk around the Lake Garden listening to the calming sound of water flowing down the stair waterfall. The most popular course in the park, Forest of Healing, has a forest walking course that serves as the perfect activity for nature therapy. Due to the park’s large size, visitors are recommended to rent a bike to get see everything the park has to offer.

Gyeongin ARA Waterway

Gyeongin ARA Waterway connects Hangang River to the Yellow Sea with an observatory, artificial waterfall, Sculpture Park and other attractions along the way. It also has an 18.2-kilometre long bicycle path that follows the waterway where many visitors enjoy riding bicycles, while others are content by taking a relaxing stroll on the promenade.

Also Read- The Best Destinations for a Perfect Travel Experience

If you want to come to Incheon on a relaxed day, Seoul Metropolitan Subway lines not only cover Seoul but also other provinces including Gyeonggi-do, Incheon, Chungcheongnam-do and Gangwon-do.

Tip: It’s easy to tour around Incheon by the Incheon subway system. (IANS)