"When there were too many people, they told us not to produce babies" in the name of family planning, and when they thought there were not enough people, they then told us to produce babies or face punishment, "A coalition of women's groups campaigning for abortion rights said in a statement in February. "We can no longer get up with this deceitful frame."
At the same time, some obstetricians and Christian activists have pushed a morality-based campaign against abortion in recent years, running a hotline for people to report doctors who perform illegal abortion. Last week, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Seoul, the capital, repeated his church's opposition to the movement to repeal the anti-abortion law, calling on South Korea to "protect women and fetuses from abortion." 1
In 2012, the last time it ruled on the case, the Constitutional Court judged the anti-abortion law as constitutional, recognizing a fetus right to life.
The number of abortions has been dropping in South Korea, from 342,000 in 2005 to 49,700 in 2017 among women of the same age group, according to estimates by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. A majority of women surveyed by the institute said they chose abortions because they feared raising children would interrupt their educational pursuits or professional careers or because they did not have money to raise offspring.
The institute attributed the drop in the number of abortions to a declining number of childbearing age and the increasing use of condoms and other means of contraception. But doctors and experts have warned that the actual number of abortions could be much larger than the official estimates.
The office of President Moon's immediate reaction to the court's ruling on Thursday.
The government's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family had called for the abolition of the anti-abortion law, which it called a "dead document" because it had been seldom enforced. They said the law had forced abortions underground, exposing women to medical accidents.
The Ministry of Justice has defended the ban on abortions, saying "it is the state's duty to protect a fetus right to life."