COLOMBIA, March 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Colombia’s Constitutional Court has rejected a proposal that would have introduced abortion on demand to the country during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Colombia’s criminal code prohibits abortion in all circumstances, but the law is not enforced. Instead, the country follows a 2006 Constitutional Court ruling that allows abortion in cases of rape, disability, or any “health” risk to the mother.
According to a report by Al-Jazeera, the court was responding to a legal challenge brought by a lawyer named Natalia Bernal. Bernal sought a total ban on abortion. Bernal brought the challenge after a 22-year-old woman in Colombia aborted her baby at seven months, with a psychological assessment declaring that she was suffering from depression as a result of pregnancy.
The challenge created the opportunity for one judge to instead propose legalizing abortion in the first four months of pregnancy.
However, the court ultimately voted 6 to 3 not to rule on the case, thus maintaining the current status quo.
The court reportedly described Bernal’s petition as one of “substantial ineptitude” and said that she had “not presented sufficient arguments” to merit reconsidering the court’s past decisions.
While the court debated the case, both pro-life and pro-abortion activists gathered in the streets. The pro-life group reportedly wore blue and chanted “Yes to life,” with abortion advocates wearing green and chanting “Yes to abortion.”
Roughly 90 percent of Colombia’s population identifies as Christian, with 70 to 80 percent of those people Catholic.
The Al-Jazeera report cites a February poll by Colombian magazine Semana which suggested that nearly 70 percent of the country was opposed to the legalization of abortion during the first four months of pregnancy.
But Cristina Rosero, a pro-abortion lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights in Bogota, told Al-Jazeera that the case has launched a public conversation that she expects to continue.
“It opens the doors for advances which haven't happened in 14 years,” she said. “This is a huge step because it means that the public debate is going forward and the people are ready for a conversation.”
Unidos por la Vida (Together for Life), a Colombian pro-life organization, welcomed the court’s vote. The decision “is a clear sign that the tide is changing in favor of the most innocent and helpless babies to be born and their mothers and fathers,” the group said in a statement.
“The decision issued today by the Constitutional Court in which it declares an inhibitory sentence against the lawsuit presented by Dr. Natalia Bernal, shows the power of the pro-civil society that managed to defeat the speech of Judge Linares who sought to violate the fundamental right to life when proposing indiscriminate abortion until 16 weeks,” the statement reads.
“However, we regret that the court has not ruled in substance and has set aside the sustained demand of Dr. Bernal,” the statement continues.
“Colombian society has awakened and will continue until the right to life is fully respected from the moment of conception until its natural death.”
Jesus Magaña, a Colombian pro-life leader, told LifeSiteNews that the pro-life movement in Colombia now needs to build on the success of the court's decision and work with politicians to ensure that all lives are protected from the moment of conception.
“We have had a bad situation in Colombia for the past 16 years,” Magana said, “but we believe this can be a moment that brings us together to defend the lives of all Colombians.”