Pro-choice activists hold rallies at Constitutional Court

SEOUL, Pro-abortion protesters on Thursday held a series of rallies in front of the Constitutional Court in Seoul, ahead of the top court's ruling on the constitutionality of the current law outlawing abortion.

Twenty-three civic organizations, which formed an alliance named "Safe Abortion," held a string of news conferences near the Constitutional Court to call for a pro-choice ruling.

The first news conference began at 9 a.m., five hours before the top court was to make a landmark ruling on the fiercely debated issue.

Hwang Kang-ha, a leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers' Party, one of the alliance members, said in the first news conference that women have the ability to actively exercise their rights to determine their own body and life and thus the anti-abortion law should be ruled unconstitutional.

Aborting an unborn fetus is punishable by a prison term of up to one year or a 2 million-won (US$1,750) fine under the Mother and Child Health Law enacted in 1953.

The Constitutional Court upheld the law in a 4-4 vote when it last reviewed its constitutionality in August 2012. Two-thirds of the nine-justice panel are required to reverse the ruling.

In the second news conference, civic activists from liberal Christian organizations issued a joint statement saying women are not tools to produce babies and churches should now listen more carefully to the pain of women.

"Childbirth was sometimes encouraged and sometimes discouraged, treating women's bodies as public goods. (Churches) should repent for that. We decisively reject the religious inertia of forcing a conforming human image and treating women as possessions," said the statement.

Youth organizations called attention to inadequate school sex education and juvenile abortion rights.

In the meantime, a group of about 10 anti-abortion activists held their own rally in front of the Constitutional Court, holding pickets that read "Abortion is murder" and "Who has the right to kill life?"

A national alliance of 79 anti-abortion civic organizations also held their own rally in the afternoon, calling for the top court to retain the constitutionality of the current anti-abortion law.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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