Colombia’s Constitutional Court Decriminalizes Abortion Up to 6 Months

Pro-lifer vows: ‘We need to keep on fighting, keep defending life. We are going to continue defending the rights of unborn children.’

The Colombian flag waves in the wind.
The Colombian flag waves in the wind. (photo: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock)

Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled 5-4 to decriminalize abortion up to six months, or 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The high-court ruling took place at an extraordinary session, while outside the court in Bogotá pro-lifers held a “Silence of the Innocents” sit-in and feminist groups demonstrated.

Voting for abortion were Antonio José Lizarazo Ocampo, Alberto Rojas Ríos, Diana Fajardo Rivera, José Fernando Reyes and Alternate Judge Julio Andrés Ossa, who replaced Judge Alejando Linares, who had been challenged for publicly expressing his support for abortion before the debate.

Dissenting from the decision and voting for life were Cristina Pardo Schlesinger, Paola Andrea Meneses, Gloria Stella Ortiz Delgado and Jorge Enrique Ibáñez.

In a press release posted on Twitter, the Constitutional Court stated that abortion “will only be punishable when it is carried out after the twenty-fourth (24) week of pregnancy and, in any case, this time limit will not apply to the three cases established in ruling C-355 of 2006.”

This means that, until the 24th week of pregnancy, abortion will not be a punishable crime; and that the three grounds for abortion established by the Constitutional Court in 2006 – risk to the life of the mother, sexual abuse or fetal deformity – will remain in force with no upper gestational limit.

The court ruling asked the congress and the national government to implement a comprehensive public-policy that, among other things, eliminates “any obstacle to the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights that are recognized in this ruling.”

Jesús Magaña, president of the United for Life platform, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, Feb. 21 that the lawsuit debated by the court was filed by a feminist group that is financed by “ProFamilia, the largest abortion clinic in Colombia. They’re doing business, under the pretext of protecting women's bodies.”

The pro-life leader also said that at the sit-in held in the morning, “hundreds of coffins representing aborted babies” were placed on the sidewalk outside the court. “A baby is aborted every seven minutes in Colombia, because of the 2006 court ruling.”

Following the ruling by the Constitutional Court, ACI Prensa spoke with Magaña, who explained that “the pro-abortion movement didn’t win because they wanted the total decriminalization of abortion and the court didn’t give it to them.”

In addition, the pro-life leader noted that the Constitutional Court “wasted a historic opportunity to correct its previous wrong rulings and tried to go ‘halfway’ between the pressure exerted by abortion proponents and the demands of pro-lifers.”

Looking for this “middle,” said Magaña, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that allows “babies up to six months to be destroyed, which is savagery.”

“There is no middle ground between letting one live or killing. They decided to allow killing up to six months, and the court has opened up the door to the abortion business even more,” Magaña stressed.

The pro-life leader explained that “although this is a court ruling, abortion isn’t legalized. It’s only decriminalized. It remains a crime that’s not punished if it’s carried out in these conditions.” Outside of the six-month limit, it is punishable unless it falls under the three permissible grounds.

As for what the pro-life movement can do in Colombia now, Magaña said that it’s time to “plan a legal strategy to see if we can get a new pronouncement different from this one,” but noted that the ruling comes from the highest court in the country.

The pro-life leader stressed that “we’re going to fight so that congress will place limits on the Constitutional Court, which is violating the constitution by not accepting what Article 11 of the Magna Carta says, which establishes in the text that life is inviolable and that in Colombia there will be no death penalty.”

The president of the United for Life platform emphasized that “life begins at the moment of fertilization, and from that moment on it is inviolable” and added that with this new ruling on abortion “the judges have once again gone wrong; they have violated the constitution that they swore to defend, and they have once again failed the Colombian people.”

Andrea Garzón, a Colombian pro-life leader, posted a video on Instagram in which she lamented that “we have a pro-abortion court that’s not protecting the human rights of Colombians. We need to keep on fighting, keep defending life. We are going to continue defending the rights of unborn children.”

“This is a lost battle, but we’re winning the war because Christ has already won it in heaven. We’re not stopping; we are here for both lives. We can’t allow babies to die. We have to continue.”

She added: “We are going to save more and more babies.” 

‘Tearing Us Apart’ book cover, with authors Alexandra DeSanctis and Ryan T. Anderson

Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing (July 2)

Roe v. Wade has been struck down. Abortion on demand is no longer the de facto law of the land across the United States. The question of the legality of abortion has returned to each state and the democratic process. The work to protect the unborn and create a better environment for women and families doesn’t end now. Instead it must continue with even greater vigor. Our guests Ryan Anderson, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Alexandra DeSanctis, a National Review journalist, know that reality well. Their newly released book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, makes the case that abortion hurts more than simply an unborn child. Abortion harms society far more than it helps it. They join us today on Register Radio.