Colombian Government Fines Catholic Hospital for Refusing to Perform Abortion

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA, Mary 12, 2009 ( – The Colombian government has announced that it will fine a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform an abortion, according to local news reports.

The Saint Ignatius University Hospital (Hospital Universitario San Ignacio), a Jesuit institution, was asked for an abortion in 2008 by a woman whose unborn child suffered from non-lethal defects, including hydrocephaly (an accumulation of water in the brain). They refused on grounds of “collective conscience.”

The woman, Yolima Bernal, ultimately received a late-term abortion in another hospital. After an investigation of the case launched last year, Colombia’s health ministry has announced a fine equivalent to approximately $5,160.

Monica Roa, a pro-abortion attorney who works with the UN-funded Women’s Link Worldwide (WLW), praised the decision, stating that “it feels like a precedent for the country and makes it clear that conscientious objection in an institution is not permitted.”

Roa was the principal force behind the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision striking down laws penalizing abortion in cases of rape or fetal deformity.

Magaly Llaguno, Executive Director of Human Life International’s Hispanic Division, told LifeSiteNews that, “It is shocking and a great cause for concern, that Colombia’s Health Department considers the killing of an unborn child that has a serious medical problem, a ‘service’ that hospitals should be forced to provide.”

Regarding Monica Roa’s statement that institutions should not be exempt for conscience reasons, Llaguno responded that, “In other words, like most abortion promoters, she supports ‘the right to choose,’ but only if you choose her way.”

Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin America Office, remarked that “it is clear that the Colombian government wants to coerce those who are able to show the fallacy of the arguments in favor of abortion in Colombia. A Catholic hospital with professional gynecologists could save both the mother and the child. That’s why the government wants to impose itself on anything that might contrast with its pretended democratic image.”

Although Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe is reputed to be “conservative” because of his close relationship with former president George Bush, his administration has been threatening Catholic hospitals with reprisals for refusing to do abortions for the last year.

The Catholic Church may soon face a similar conflict in the United States, where the Obama administration is reviewing regulations that exempt doctors in federally-funded hospitals from doing abortions on grounds of conscience.

Approximately 219 abortions have been done in Bogota alone since the May 2006 Supreme Court decision.

Related LifeSiteNews Coverage:

Colombia’s Attorney General Pushes Catholic Hospitals to Provide Abortions

Woman Sues Jesuit Hospital to Force it to Provide Abortion

Outgoing Bush Administration Enacts Conscience Protection for Pro-Life Health Care Workers – Can Refuse to Participate in Abortion