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South Korea to reconsider its abortion ban

South Korean women hold up placards that say "Stop a crackdown on abortion that violates women's rights" during a March 2010 rally at a downtown park in Seoul. The president’s office recently said the government will begin research on whether to overturn the abortion ban. (2010 file photo/Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

South Korea will reconsider its ban on elective abortion procedures, the South Korean president’s office said Sunday, according to Reuters.

What is the current law?

According to Reuters, South Korea criminalized abortion in 1953 in an effort to boost its population in the face of aggression from North Korea. Twenty years later, South Korea added exceptions to its abortion ban, allowing procedures to take place if there was a risk of birth defects, if the mother’s life was in jeopardy, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.

Why will they reconsider the law?

According to Reuters, more than 230,000 South Koreans recently signed a petition calling for the law to be overturned.

The president’s office said the government will soon conduct research on abortion in the country for the first time since 2010.

“Based on the outcome from the research, we expect to move relevant discussions one step forward,” Cho Kuk, the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, said in a statement provided to Reuters.

Cho added that South Korea’s Constitutional Court — which upheld the current law in 2012 — will also review the legislation again.

Reuters reported that the 2010 research found that 16,900 abortions were performed in the country that year, and just 6 percent of them were legal.

Reuters noted that while some in South Korea have pushed for changes to the abortion ban, the country has “a strong pro-life lobby” and “one of Asia’s largest percentages of Christians.” The country also has a low fertility rate.

According to The Economist, support for the ban in the country has dipped to 36 percent from 53 percent in 2010.

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