February 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A particularly tragic abortion case made headlines in Colombia when a young woman obtained the abortion of her seven-month-old unborn child despite her ex-boyfriend’s desperate fight for the life of his baby. Juan Pablo Medina, 25, had been pleading online and in the media to be allowed to save his son, whom the couple had already decided to have baptized under the name of Juan Sebastián, offering to take care of him alone. Now he is asking for all that is left to him: the possibility to give “Juanse” a Christian burial.
The Colombian bishops’ conference reacted strongly, calling abortion a “death penalty inflicted on the smallest and the defenseless.”
The abortion took place on February 11, under the authority of the local family planning association ironically named “Profamilia,” which is an affiliate of the International Federation of Planned Parenthood. Profamilia committed the abortion even though it was not covered by legal exceptions as defined by Colombia’s constitutional court in 2006.
At seven months, a fetus is generally deemed viable, and the abortion procedure is gruesome. The little boy had no disease or malformation, and the pregnancy was progressing without any health problems either for the child or for his mother, according to the father.
Juan Pablo Medina’s heartbreaking loss followed what looked like an ordinary story of an ordinary couple from the suburbs of Bogotá. The senior law student from Popayán in the southeast of the Colombian capital told the media that when Juanse was conceived, it was the result of a joint decision on the part of his girlfriend, who was then a 22-year-old student, and himself. They had been together for 14 months, and they both wanted a baby.
It was in September of last year that they discovered that she was three months along. “It made us very happy,” says Medina. They actively prepared to welcome the child.
His joy came to a sudden halt on December 27, when his girlfriend's mother learned about the pregnancy. According to Medina, he was at that point separated from his girlfriend by her family, who told her she was jeopardizing her studies and her career. He lost all contact with her. On January 7, he learned that she had been voluntarily hospitalized and was asking for a voluntary abortion.
Mutual friends conveyed the message to Medina that the baby had a malformation; it was also said to him that she was in a critical condition.
Medina never believed that, because a December 6 sonogram had shown the baby in perfect condition. Besides, the mother did not obtain the abortion she was asking for because none of the circumstances defined by law had been verified: illness or malformation of the fetus, rape, or a serious threat to the physical or mental health of the woman. In particular, her health care providers were not prepared to certify that her mental health was in danger.
The girl’s parents later told Medina that she thought she was not ready to have a child and that she wanted to get along with her career. According to them, she also thought she didn’t have enough money to take care of the baby.
She was discharged from hospital on January 21, at which point the pro-abortion NGO Profamilia took over. Founded in 1965, when it campaigned for legal contraception, it stepped over to lobbying for legal abortion after the 2006 decision of the Constitutional Court.
Profamilia is presently working to make abortion legal unconditionally during the first three months of pregnancy through a bid to change Colombia’s jurisprudence. A presentation by a pro-abortion magistrate, Judge Linares, is expected to be heard by the Constitutional Court two weeks from now. A “scientific expert” for Profamilia, Juan Carlos Vargas, told El Expectador that if the pro-abortion association has its way, with a “right” to abortion during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, legal exceptions would still apply for abortions beyond three months of gestation.
Profamilia refused to take Medina’s pleas into account. For nearly two months, the young man attempted to block the abortion, organizing protests at the foot of the clinic of Popayán where the abortion would take place.
Medina even filed a criminal complaint for attempted murder, through which he also hoped to obtain legal guardianship of his son. During this procedure, Profamila said that on January 22, a “psychological assessment” of the mother had been made. It said that the grounds of threat to her “mental health” were verified and that this factor had justified that it should prepare to go on with the procedure, as was its “obligation.”
According to RCNRadio, the young woman, named Angie Tatiana Palta, gave the station an interview on January 17, in which she accused both Medina and her family of pressuring her into keeping her child and saying she was in a “nightmare.”
According to Infobae.com from Argentina, the judge decided that Profamilia’s opinion was not sufficient and that another assessment should be made. The pro-abortion NGO replied that this would be a hindrance to a “fundamental right” and that, being duty-bound to guarantee that abortion services be obtained according to guidelines from National Health Services, it should normally do so within five workdays after the consultation. It added that asking for extra medical certificates would constitute “a hindrance and an administrative barrier” to abortion “rights.”
During this hearing, the local public prosecutor of Popayán told the court that there were no legal grounds for the abortion and that such a procedure would be illegal in this case. On January 30, the judge did not openly reject the mother's bid to abort but, noting that Profamilia’s gynecologist had authored her psychological assessment, made clear that this doctor was not the right person to have done so, not being specialized in mental health. The judge decided that the mother would have to undergo further psychological testing before she could go ahead with the abortion.
But Profamilia did not wait for that to happen. It proceeded with the abortion on February 11. It justified the act on the grounds that “the young woman had undergone emotional changes when she learned that she was pregnant.” It quoted depression, crying fits, suicidal ideation, and loss of sleep and appetite. “She wanted once more to become a joyful young woman who enjoyed going out, dancing, and making jokes.”
It is not known whether the woman was told of her ex-boyfriend’s wish to look after their baby alone if she did not want the child.
The judiciary authorities were the ones who told Medina that the abortion had taken place.
“They’ve killed him,” he answered. He is now filing criminal complaints against his girlfriend and her mother, accusing the latter of having instigated the abortion. He published a statement thanking the many Colombians who helped him over the last few months and speaking of his grief at having lost his son, whom he had hoped to see being born and growing up. “I would have given him all my love,” he said.
Profamilia told the media that in this sort of case, it is simply a question of pitching one right against another right. “A woman is a being who exists,” Juan Carlos Vargas told El Expreso. “A pregnancy is a project,” he added. It was therefore normal to privilege the right of the person already existing, he claimed, glossing over the fact that if Juanse had been born prematurely at seven months, he would have been taken care of as a human being — the human being he already was in his mother's womb.
On Wednesday, a demonstration was held in front of the headquarters of Profamilia in Bogotá, accusing the NGO of not defending the family in Colombia and shouting: “No to the torturers, yes to life!” Men and women of all ages were present, as well as politicians and even candle and flower vendors, according to lafm.com.
Services of the Bogotá municipality responded, asking for the complete decriminalization of abortion Colombia. Claudia López, the capital’s mayor, stands behind this demand.
In a statement, the archbishop of Popayán, Luis José Rueda Aparicio, quoted St. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae to recall that “every life is a gift from God and good news.” On February 13, reacting to news of the death of Juanse, he stated: “The social environment in Colombia leads us to be as a voice in the desert fighting for the fragile lives of unborn children.”
Bishop Rueda added that human beings should be respected as persons from the moment of conception and that the “inviolable right of every innocent human being to life” should be recognized.
He added that even when laws exist against nascent human life, “we must recall that the mission to defend life in homes, in hospitals, in universities, in the country and in the cities, is incumbent upon all of us, women and men, with scientific, legal, ethical, and spiritual arguments.”
The Colombian bishops’ conference also published a communiqué shortly before the abortion took place, calling for prayer for the little boy’s life. Its signatories said they were “perplexed” by the fact that the institutions of Colombia “should not guarantee the rights of a father who, with insistence and determination, is fighting for the life of his son.”
“We reaffirm that life is sacred, and that abortion is an injustice that cries out to Heaven and deeply wounds society. It is impossible to build peace while implementing this death penalty against the smallest and the defenseless,” they proclaimed. “All the limits of logic have been crossed,” they added, calling on all Catholics to join in “prayer days for the victims of abortion.”