A critical assessment of abortion law and its implementation in South Korea

Hyosin Kim, Hyun A. Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Abortion is generally prohibited by law in South Korea, except for induced terminations administered within 24 weeks of pregnancy because of medical, genetic, and ethical reasons. This study provides a historical background of the development of abortion law in Korea and discusses specific provisions regulating the procedure and prenatal sex testing under the Criminal Act, Mother and Child Law, and Medical Services Act. Through a critical review of current laws, this paper attempts to explain the legal, social, and cultural factors underlying the discrepancy between restrictive laws and enforcement of the regulation. The current laws need to be amended to reflect changes in medical knowledge and contemporary social values and to protect women’s human rights and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-87
Number of pages17
JournalAsian Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A3A2046566) and the Ewha Law School Research Grant of 2016.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Asian Center for Women's Studies, Ewha Womans University.


  • South Korea
  • abortion laws
  • prenatal sex testing
  • unenforced regulatory laws


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