South Korea’s Fetus Gender Disclosure Ban Deemed Unconstitutional

SEOUL — In a landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court of South Korea has declared the medical law that prohibits the disclosure of a fetus's gender before the 32nd week of pregnancy unconstitutional. The court's decision, made by a 6-3 vote, challenges the existing Clause 2 of the Medical Service Act's Article 20, which was intended to prevent sex-selective abortions, a practice driven by a historical preference for male children.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the ban on revealing the gender of a fetus before the 32-week mark does not appropriately serve its legislative goal of protecting fetal life. Moreover, it was found to unnecessarily limit parents' rights to access information about their unborn child's gender.

This ruling follows a history of legal challenges to restrictions on fetus gender disclosure in South Korea. In 2008, the Constitutional Court issued a similar decision against a previous version of the law, which led to the creation of the now-overturned Clause 2 the following year.

The decision comes amid evolving social attitudes in South Korea, where the traditional preference for boys is diminishing, and concerns over the country's declining fertility rate are growing. Proponents of the right to know a fetus's gender argue that such information is a crucial aspect of parental rights and personal happiness.

The constitutional petition leading to this ruling was filed by a coalition arguing that the ban infringes upon parents' rights to information and the pursuit of happiness, as well as medical professionals' freedom to practice their profession.

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