Protesters hold a rally against South Korea's abortion laws outside the constitutional court in Seoul. Photograph:( AFP )
The court also said that the current law would remain in effect until the end of next year.
South Korea's constitutional court lifted the country's decades-old abortion ban in a landmark decision Thursday.
The court said criminalising women who undergo abortion and doctors that carry out terminations was "unconstitutional" and ordered the 1953 law to be revised by the end of next year, the Yonhap news agency reported.
However, the court said the current law would remain in effect until the end of next year.
The South was one of the few industrialised nations where the procedure was illegal except for instances of rape, incest and when the mother's health is at risk.
Calls to repeal the law have gained traction in recent years, but support for it is also staunch in a country that remains conservative towards female sexuality and highly influenced by evangelical Christianity.
An opinion poll in 2017 showed a narrow public majority -- 51.9 per cent -- in favour of abolishing the ban.
The Constitutional Court last upheld the law in 2012, saying that abortion would "end up running rampant" if not punished.