By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

BOGOTA, November 11, 2009 ( – Colombia's Council of State has suspended a decree issued late last month by the country's Constitutional Court which ruled that all hospitals, whether secular or religious, must retain doctors who are willing to perform abortions.

The court declared that, while individual doctors may refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds, a hospital or other institution, whether public or private, secular or religious, could not invoke moral grounds to refuse to perform abortions. Judges also may not deny requests for abortions based on their own personal values, according to the court.

Colombia decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, incest, certain birth defects, and threats to the mother's life or health in 2006.

The Council of State, which is currently studying a request for annulment of the law allowing abortion, said the Constitutional Court ruling needs to be corrected and properly defined, and thus prohibited any abortions from being carried out until this has taken place.

Colombia's pro-life Inspector General, Alejandro Ordoñez, requested that the State Council nullify both the Constitutional Court decree and a corresponding order to the ministries of Education and Social Protection requiring all schools to teach students about abortion rights.

“The order to design and set in motion massive campaigns promoting abortion as a right is superceded by jurisprudential guidelines laid out by the same Court in its C-355 ruling of 2006, when it maintained [abortion's] character as a crime with three exceptions without referring to it as a human right,” Ordoñez told the newspaper El Tiempo.

See previous LSN reports:

Colombian Court Legalizes Abortion – Beachhead for Activists in Latin America 

Authorized” Abortions Underway After Colombia Court De-penalized Abortion

Colombian Government Fines Catholic Hospital for Refusing to Perform Abortion