Decriminalization of abortion in Colombia did not succeed

Colombian people were asking to decriminalize abortion during the first weeks of pregnancy but the Constitutional Court didn't approve it

Woman holding a pregnancy test.

The Colombian Constitutional Court didn't approve the decriminalization of abortion. / Photo: DepositPhotos - AndrewLozovyi

The Woman Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro

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Leer en español: La despenalización del aborto en Colombia no tuvo éxito

Six magistrates of the Court declared themselves inhibited to study the paper and issue a new ruling on the topic, against three that agreed to decriminalize abortion during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.  

They were Cristina Pardo, Diana Fajardo, Gloria Ortiz, Antonio José Lizarazo, Guillermo Guerrero, and Carlos Bernal against Alejandro Linares, Alberto Rojas, and José Fernando Reyes. 

The reason was that the magistrates considered that the demand filed by lawyer Natalia Bernal Cano, who aimed the Court to recognize the rights of children before birth and knock down the three causes that allowed women to abort legally in 2006: physical or mental risk to the mother, due to malformations in the fetus and rape,  “was inept, that is, it did not meet all the requirements to be able to make an analysis and pronouncement in the background,” said El Tiempo.

According to Bernal, admitting abortion, even in those exceptional grounds, put the life, dignity, health, physical and psychological integrity of both the pregnant mother and her unborn son or daughter at risk.

In his document, as read on El Tiempo, Linares revealed the situation of vulnerability of the women that are judged for having an abortion: 34 percent are engaged in household chores and domestic services, 2.75 percent were unemployed, 18.5 percent were college students, 13.6 percent said they were high school students, and 2.7 percent were engaged in sex work.

Also read: Gender violence related to higher risk of death for women

Mixed feelings

On Monday, outside the court, there were groups asking to maintain the advances in this fundamental right or to go even further, but there were also organizations that, with harangues and banners, asked to criminalize it and protect the unborn.

Those who asked to eliminate this crime, at least in the early stages of pregnancy, so that women could voluntarily terminate their pregnancy, affirm that the barriers have continued for women, even being in the three causes, which It means that the Constitution is not fully fulfilling the right to terminate the pregnancy in a legal way.

Women's organizations affirmed that it is important that the Court does not take steps back and keep the grounds protected, but they said they will continue to insist on seeking the total decriminalization of this crime.

President Iván Duque also pronounced, and said that he has always been “pro-life”. 

“I have always said, I have declared myself a pro-life person, that I believe that life begins from conception and that in Colombia, at the jurisprudential level, several years ago there was a pronouncement where it was established that under the principle provided by our Constitution, there were exceptional circumstances, such as the danger in the mother's life, genetic malformation not compatible with life, or violent carnal access”, said Duque according to El Heraldo. 

"In that order of ideas, I believe it is a statement that is received with the peace of mind that the jurisprudential line of the Constitutional Court has been maintained since 2006", he concluded.