Almost a year has passed since the decriminalization of abortion in Colombia until week 24. However, there are multiple doubts about what are the procedures to access the voluntary termination of pregnancy. We explain what the protocol is.
LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos
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Leer en español: ¿Cuál es el protocolo para acceder a un aborto en Colombia?
On February 21th, the Constitutional Court, with ruling C-055 of 2022, decriminalized abortion in Colombia up to the 24th week of gestation. In this way, it expanded the possibility for girls and women to terminate their pregnancy without receiving penalties and without having to present any extraordinary grounds other than their willingness to terminate the pregnancy. This, as long as it is within the first 24 weeks of gestation. After this term, those who wish to perform an abortion must accept the grounds established in 2006 by Judgment C-355: rape, malformation of the fetus or danger to the life of the mother.
On the other hand, on January 12th, Resolution 051 of 2023 was issued, which establishes that all the actors that are part of the health system must allow free and barrier-free access to the voluntary interruption of the IVE pregnancy to the population. Thus, public institutions must comply with delivering guarantees to people to carry out an IVE, as well as provide information on their sexual and reproductive rights. This includes assistance in finding out about contraceptive methods and how to access them in health services.
What is Important to Know Before Requesting an IVE Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy?
The first thing is to know that there is a legal framework for abortion in Colombia, for which whoever makes the decision to abort has the right to do so safely and public institutions must provide guarantees to do so. In Colombia, all women, girls, trans men, non-binary people or people with any gender identity who are pregnant have been recognized as holders of this right. This includes, of course, migrant women and minors.
On the other hand, this must be an autonomous decision, free of coercion or manipulation. In this sense, it is crucial to know the different alternatives that exist, either to access the voluntary interruption of the pregnancy or to continue with it. However, barriers cannot be established for those who decide to abort within the provisions of the law. In fact, according to La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres : "the reasonable term to respond and carry out the IVE – if it is medically possible – is 5 days. Unjustified delays are prohibited". This organization, which has been fundamental for legal abortion to be recognized in the country, has a series of educational resources to learn more about the subject at www.derechoalaborto.com.
Likewise, it is essential to know that the abortion is performed safely. In other words, by health professionals and not clandestinely, the procedure should not have greater risks to the health of the woman. It is a myth that it causes infertility or uterine or breast cancer.
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How is an IVE Practiced in Colombia?
The techniques used to perform an abortion in Colombia depend on the gestation period in which the pregnant person is and the evaluation of the state of health made by medical personnel. The most advisable thing, in case of making the decision, is to do it as soon as possible. The most common options are medical abortion at home, medical abortion at a medical center, and abortion at a medical center using uterine aspiration (MVA) and Dilation and Evacuation (D&E), according to what was indicated by the Fundación Oriéntame.
It is also important to know that medical personnel have the right to conscientious objection if they must perform an abortion. However, in this case, the case should be immediately referred to others and/or other professionals.
What Entities Provide Advice and Can Perform an Abortion in Colombia?
The Table for the Life and Health of Women has designed an IVE Routeto inform about the protocol to follow. Next, we will point out the protocol and some private entities that also provide advice or can practice an IVE.
Public health network:
People not affiliated with the health system or migrant women in an irregular situation can go to a hospital (public IPS) through the emergency service and request an IVE.
People affiliated with the health system can request an IVE from their EPS, through the priority consultation service or general medical consultation. They can also go to hospitals that have an agreement or are part of the EPS network.
Profamilia is a private non-profit organization that promotes Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights in Colombia. Regarding abortion and family planning, it is one of the most consolidated organizations in the country. They provide a route of psychological attention, general medicine and post-abortion control.
On the other hand, they have a service called Mía , which works throughout Colombia and allows you to perform an abortion with medications at home, from week 5 to week 10 of pregnancy.
It is a foundation dedicated to promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of women in the country. They offer information on the different abortion procedures, contraception, sexual health, STI prevention, post-abortion check-up and alternatives to abortion, such as continuing the pregnancy or giving up the baby for adoption. They provide virtual care for all of Colombia and have face-to-face care at their offices in Cúcuta, Valledupar, Villavicencio, Bogotá, Dosquebradas, Barranquilla, Medellín and Ipiales.
Finally, if the health service provider entity refuses to perform the abortion or puts up barriers to delay the process, it can be reported to the Ministry of Health, the Ombudsman, SuperSalud (in the case of the EPS), the Attorney General's Offices and Ombudsmen or contact a social organization that provides legal advice.