South Korean court orders easing of decades-old abortion ban

Notable Attorneys

In a major reversal, South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the easing of the country's decades-old ban on most abortions, one of the strictest in the developed world.

Abortions have been largely illegal in South Korea since 1953, though convictions for violating the restrictions are rare. Still, the illegality of abortions forces women to seek out unauthorized and often expensive procedures to end their pregnancies, creating a social stigma that makes them feel like criminals.

The court's nine-justice panel said that the parliament must revise legislation to ease the current regulations by the end of 2020. It said the current abortion law was incompatible with the constitution and would be repealed if parliament fails to come up with new legislation by then.

The ruling is final and cannot be appealed, court officials said, but current regulations will remain in effect until they are replaced or repealed.

An easing of the law could open up the door to more abortions for social and economic reasons. Current exceptions to the law only allow abortions when a woman is pregnant through rape or incest, when a pregnancy seriously jeopardizes her health, or when she or her male partner has certain diseases.

A woman in South Korea can be punished with up to one year in prison for having an illegal abortion, and a doctor can get up to two years in prison for performing an unauthorized abortion.

Thursday's verdict was a response to an appeal filed in February 2017 by an obstetrician charged with carrying out about 70 unauthorized abortions from 2013-2017 at the request or approval of pregnant women.

Most other countries in the 36-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the so-called most developed countries, allow abortions for broad social and economic reasons. South Korea is one of only five OECD member states that don't allow such abortions, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The South Korean public has been sharply split over the abortion law. There have been heated panel discussions on TV and internet programs; activists, both for and against, have for months stood with placards near the court. Dozens gathered on Thursday.

Related listings

  • Supreme Court rejects Trump plea to enforce asylum ban

    Supreme Court rejects Trump plea to enforce asylum ban

    Notable Attorneys 12/22/2018

    A divided Supreme Court won’t let the Trump administration begin enforcing a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Chief Justice John Roberts joined his four more liberal colleagues Friday in ruling agains...

  • Court tosses permit for pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

    Court tosses permit for pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

    Notable Attorneys 12/11/2018

    A permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, was thrown out Thursday by a federal appeals court that harshly criticized regulators for approving the proposal.A three-judge panel of ...

  • The Latest: Porn star's lawyer shows up at Cohen sentencing

    The Latest: Porn star's lawyer shows up at Cohen sentencing

    Notable Attorneys 12/08/2018

    Michael Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced for crimes including a hush-money payment to the performer.Michael Avenatti represented Daniels in a legal dispute with Cohen in which she sought to be released from the non-disclosure agreement.Avenatti has...

Does a car or truck accident count as a work injury?

If an employee is injured in a car crash while on the job, they are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. “On the job” injuries are not limited to accidents and injuries that happen inside the workplace, they may also include injuries suffered away from an employee’s place of work while performing a job-related task, such as making a delivery or traveling to a client meeting.

Regular commutes to and from work don’t usually count. If you get into an accident on your way in on a regular workday, it’s probably not considered a work injury for the purposes of workers’ compensation.

If you drive around as part of your job, an injury on the road or loading/unloading accident is likely a work injury. If you don’t typically drive around for work but are required to drive for the benefit of your employer, that would be a work injury in many cases. If you are out of town for work, pretty much any driving would count as work related. For traveling employees, any accidents or injuries that happen on a work trip, even while not technically working, can be considered a work injury. The reason is because you wouldn’t be in that town in the first place, had you not been on a work trip.

Workers’ compensation claims for truck drivers, traveling employees and work-related injuries that occur away from the job site can be challenging and complex. At Krol, Bongiorno & Given, we understand that many families depend on the income of an injured worker, and we are proud of our record protecting the injured and disabled. We have handled well over 30,000 claims for injured workers throughout the state of Illinois.