South Korean court orders lawmakers to ease abortion ban

South Korea’s top court on Thursday ordered the country to lift a strict abortion ban that has been in place for decades.

The Constitutional Court of Korea ruled that the 66-year ban — which prohibits abortions except for cases of rape, incest, jeopardy to the mother’s health or certain diseases present in the parents — is incompatible with the constitution, The Associated Press reported.

The court ordered South Korea’s parliament to propose less-restrictive abortion policies by the end of next year or it would repeal the current law, according to the news service.

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Though the AP reported that abortion-related convictions are rare, the current law stipulates that women who have abortions and doctors who perform them can face prison time.

The ruling comes in response to a 2017 appeal from an obstetrician who was charged with performing about six dozen illegal abortions over four years.

Seven of the court’s nine judges voted in favor of lifting the ban, according to CNN.

The ruling comes as a number of U.S. states move to strengthen restrictions on abortion, with a handful of GOP-led legislatures seeking to enact “heartbeat” bills that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.