On Monday, Colombia became the most recent country in Latin America to increase access to abortion as the country’s Constitutional Court voted to legalize the procedure up until the 24th week of pregnancy.
Prior to the ruling, Colombia only allowed abortions when a woman’s life was at risk, a baby showed abnormalities, or a pregnancy was the result of rape.
The decision handed down by the tribunal of nine judges fell short of what pro-choice groups had hoped, as they had consistently been pushing for abortion to be completely decriminalized in Columbia. Still, the ruling has been described as a historic event by women’s rights groups, which estimate that roughly 400,000 women seek illegal, secret abortions in the country every year.
Now, women who reside in Columbia will be allowed to get abortions until the 24th week of their pregnancy without having to give any reasoning. Following the 24-week benchmark or pregnancy, abortion will still face restrictions.
“We are trying to get the complete decriminalization of abortion…but this is still a historic step,” noted Christina Rosero. Rosero serves as a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is an advocacy group that had been a part of the five organizations that filed a lawsuit in 2020 to urge the high court to review the country’s abortion laws.
The lawsuit alleged that restrictions on abortions were discriminatory against women who live in low income areas, where it is harder for them to obtain legal abortions as they had less access to doctors, lawyers, or psychologists who could assist in proving that carrying a pregnancy to full term would put their health at risk.
Rosero added that changes to the Columbian law will make it easier for people of lower income levels to receive safe abortions. “Our challenge now is to ensure that this ruling is implemented,” she said.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LA TIMES