Bishops of South Korea expressed “profound regret” for the Constitutional Court decision against a ban that makes abortion illegal, part of a law passed in 1953 that is still enforced, according to Fides News Agency.
In a landmark sentence passed yesterday, April 11, 2019, the Court established that prohibiting the voluntary termination of a pregnancy is unconstitutional. According to regulation, women can be fined and imprisoned for having an abortion, with exceptions made for victims of violence, incest, or life-threatening purposes. The Court mandate called for a rewrite of the law within 2020.
“The Constitutional Court sentence negates the fundamental right for a fetus to live, a life without the possibility to defend itself,” said a Korean Bishop’s statement signed by Igino Kim Hee-Jung, President of the Catholic Bishop Conference. “Additionally it imputes the responsibility of an unwanted pregnancy to women only, unjustly excluding men’s right to have a say,” said the statement. “Abortion is a sin, as is killing an innocent life in the womb for any reason: this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that can never justify such a practice.”
The Bishops emphasized that “the Catholic Church of the Republic of Korea will continue to assist and support women and men that, finding themselves in despair, are drawn by the temptation to consider abortion, to choose life. Our doors are open to women suffering emotionally, physically and spiritually, and wish to reconcile and heal from a past abortion.
The Bishops confirm that the Church will do everything in its power “to uphold and promote life” and recall that “protecting life at the time of conception is the responsibility of every member of society.” The Catholic Church in Korea, “urges the executive and legislative powers of the State to introduce laws that encourage women and men, in difficult circumstances, to choose life over death,” so as to support them in avoiding the choice of the abortion.
In Seoul, after the sentence was passed, two different demonstrations were held: one of the citizens in favor of legalizing abortion, pleased by the Court’s decision; another of those in favor of keeping abortion illegal, a rule that over the past years has caused a heated debate among the public opinion.