LA PAZ, Bolivia, February 19, 2014 ( – While pro-lifers are hailing a Monday ruling by Bolivia’s top constitutional court that upholds the nation’s laws prohibiting abortion, the ruling has also been welcomed by the nation’s pro-abortion lobby as a “great step forward” in their campaign.

Bishop Cristobal Bialasik of Oruro described the Bolivian Constitutional Court’s as a cause for “great joy.” Teresa Lanza, director of the Bolivian affiliate of Catholics for Choice, on the other hand, said she “rejects the ruling,” but acknowledged that with the new modifications to the abortion laws “the door is now open to access abortion on demand.

In 2012, Congresswoman Patricia Mancilla Martinez initiated a constitutional challenge by asking the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal to completely invalidate Bolivia’s current abortion legislation contained in sections 263-269 of the penal code.  On Monday, the court published the ruling that upheld the current laws banning abortion, but loosened the requirements necessary to obtain an abortion to kill a child conceived in rape.


Previously, the country required a judicial process before a child conceived in rape could be legally aborted, but the court ruled that requirement unconstitutional.

Pro-abortion activists like Ms. Lanza interpret this as “making the process of obtaining an abortion easier,” and as “a great step forward.”

Public opinion in Bolivia is staunchly opposed to abortion.  In a poll conducted by the Bolivian polling firm Captura Consulting in July of 2013, opposition to abortion ranged from 80 percent in the central indigenous regions to 57 percent in the metropolitan city of La Paz.

In a press conference on July 19, 2013, President Evo Morales, the leader of the MAS socialist party, the same party Congresswoman Mancilla Martinez belongs to, stated that “any abortion is a crime” but deferred to his cabinet to take an official position.

Internal division among Andean socialists is not uncommon.  In October, Ecuador’s socialist president, Rafael Correa, threatened to resign after members of his own party attempted to legalize abortion.  Boasting a very strong local mandate, and widespread public opposition to abortion, President Correa instead proceeded to discipline the members of his own party who had defied his public promise to protect the right to life of the preborn.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling, which was based on the interpretation of Bolivia’s new constitution (adopted in 2007 under the leadership of current President Evo Morales), explicitly rejects western imperialism and seeks to base itself upon the culture and traditions of the indigenous people of the Andes region. 

Click “like” if you are PRO-LIFE!

Paradoxically, the ruling seeks to reconcile the indigenous people’s traditional opposition to abortion and the explicit rejection of Western and European influence with a conscious submission to the demands of international organizations such as the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Page 20 of the opinion states that as part of the “struggle and anti-colonial resistance of the original Andean people … there must be a reconstitution through the use of the Andean people’s own political and juridical systems … as the basis for de-colonization, which is the foundation of the new state.”

The opinion goes on to describe the theory of life and death from the perspective of the “original indigenous farmer communities.”  According to the ruling, “For thousands of years, one of the ways of understanding the conception of life in the cosmos, was that two opposing forces were combined, one tangible from the depths and one intangible from space, and as a result of this combination these forces exploded and formed the cosmos. … It is necessary to understand that life itself has its origin in the cosmos and therefore the reproductive rights do not only include the woman … but are a result of the cycle of life of the cosmos, which has no beginning and no end.”

In stark contrast to this Andean-centric conception of life and death, law, and sovereignty, the opinion relies upon the “recommendations” of the United States and Western-dominated Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.  The justices explain that “the member states (to international treaties) must guarantee to the victims of rape who decide to willingly terminate their pregnancy safe abortion services, and must eliminate any barriers to abortion.” As its basis, the opinion cites specifically the recommendation of the UN Committee to “adopt regulations to implement existing laws on Bolivian women’s right to therapeutic abortion. The Committee also urges the State party to afford women access to high-quality services for the treatment of complications resulting from unsafe abortions with a view to reducing maternal mortality rates.”

Abortion proponents cite the negative effect of illegal abortion upon maternal health often, but the factual basis for this claim has recently been soundly discredited.  In a recent, peer reviewed publication, Chilean epidemiologist Dr. Elard Koch found that in fact, those nations such as Chile and Ireland that banned all abortion were among the nations boasting the highest maternal health ranking.

The court also relies upon the decision in the Baby Boy v. United States case, in which the United States (one of the only countries in America that has not signed onto the American Convention on Human Rights) sued to ensure that the protection of life enshrined in Article 4.1 of the Convention was interpreted to permit abortion.  The court justifies its loosening of the process required before killing a child conceived in rape by stating that “the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights … decided that … it was impossible to interpret the instrument (the Convention) as conferring an absolute right to life from conception.”

Nevertheless, the decision of the Bolivian high court also contains strong setbacks to abortion proponent’s hopes of using international law to legalize abortion.   While admitting that Article 66 of the Bolivian constitution guarantees the “sexual and reproductive rights of women,” the court explains that the article in no way establishes abortion as a reproductive right in Bolivian law.

Reiterating this point, the court writes that “the respect for life is one of the fundamental pillars of the Bolivian State.”

Father Guillermo Siles, a Bolivian priest known for his outspoken defense of the sanctity of life, told LifeSiteNews that “while the decision ratifies the protection of life from conception, it also ratifies the legalization of abortion.” Father Siles also decried the stream of funding flooding Bolivia through non-profit organizations like Catholics for Choice.