Colombian court leaves abortion regulations unchanged

Pregnant Credit Syda Productions Shutterstock CNA Syda Productions/Shutterstock.

Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled Monday to maintain the country's status quo on abortion, neither banning the practice entirely nor legalizing elective abortion up to 16 weeks.

The court maintained its 2006 decision that legalized abortion on the grounds of risk to the life of the mother, rape, and fetal deformities.

In its 6-3 decision March 2, the court declined to rule on two lawsuits brought before it in January by law professor Natalia Bernal, which sought to outlaw abortion entirely.Bernal argued abortion violates the rights of unborn children and of women, and amounts to torture.

The majority said that Bernal had "not presented sufficient arguments" to justify reconsidering the 2006 decision, and her petition was characterized by "substantial ineptitude."

Three judges voted that the court should rule on the lawsuit, and authored dissenting opinions favoring the legalization of abortion.

One of the three, Alejandro Linares, had proposed legalizing elective abortion during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. His proposed ruling was presented to the court last week, and had been leaked to the media.

Unidos por la Vida Colombia, a prolife platform, lamented that the court "did not rule on the merits and will not consider Dr. Bernal's lawsuits."

"The tide is turning in favor of the most defenseless: the unborn babies, their mothers and fathers, Colombian society has woken up and will continue until the right to life is fully respected, from the moment of conception until natural death," it said.

The group also asked that the court implement "jurisprudence that safeguards the constitution and the lives of all Colombians," and that it "respect Article 11 of the constitution," declaring unconstitutional its 2018 decision.

The court had recognized abortion as a right in 2018, while the eleventh article of the Colombian constitution bars capital punishment, saying that "the right to life is inviolable."

The Colombian Ministry of Health is drafting regulations to comply with the 2018 ruling.

Jesús Magaña, president of Unidos por la Vida Colombia, told ACI Prensa that the court's decision this week was "a victory that gives hope."

"We have won a battle but not the war with the abortion lobby, which sought to expand the time frame for this practice to 16 weeks. Although we can say we're in a tie, this can in fact be considered a defeat for the abortion lobby, which was unable to further advance its agenda."

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