Colombia is the fourth Latin American country to legalize abortion
Colombia has become the latest country in Latin America to expand access to abortion, as its Constitutional Court voted on Monday to legalize the procedure until the 24th week of pregnancy.
The tribunal of nine judges’ decision did not meet the expectations of prochoice groups who had been pressing for complete decriminalization in Colombia of abortion.
Women’s rights groups still considered it a historic event, estimating that around 400,000 women are subject to clandestine abortifactions in the country every year.
Colombia had previously allowed abortions when a woman’s lives were in danger, the fetus was malformed or a pregnancy was the result of rape.
Colombian women will now be able get abortions up to the 24th week without needing to give any justification. Abortion will not be allowed for women who are in serious health danger after the 24th Week.
“We were trying to get the complete decriminalization of abortion … but this is still a historic step,” said Cristina Rosero, a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group that was one of five organizations that filed a lawsuit in 2020 to get the high court to review Colombia’s abortions laws.
This lawsuit claimed that abortion restrictions discriminated against women who live in low income areas. They had difficulty getting legal abortions because they did not have access to lawyers or psychologists who could help prove that their pregnancies put their health at risk.
Rosero indicated that changes to Colombian laws will make it easier to access safe abortions for those on lower incomes.
She said, “Our challenge is now to ensure that the ruling is implemented.”
Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, and Cuba all allow abortions with no restrictions.
Latin America is also a region in which some countries prohibit termination of pregnancy without exception. This includes El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Colombia is home to the majority of Roman Catholic Colombians. Abortion has long been controversial. The lawsuit was filed by women’s rights organizations. Judges did not vote on it but met multiple times to discuss it. Meanwhile pro-choice groups waving green flags, faced off against anti-abortion protesters dressed in blue.
Jonathan Silva, an activist for United for Life said Monday’s decision was a surprise to him. “We don’t know how this happened,” Silva said. “But we will need to protest and call on congress to regulate abortion.
A poll conducted last year in Colombia said that 25 per cent of people considered abortion a crime, while 42 per cent disagreed with that statement.
Colombian women can be sentenced to up to three year imprisonment for illegal abortions.