Battle in Colombia over woman who wants to abort deformed fetus


A woman in Colombia who is in her sixth month of pregnancy has filed a lawsuit demanding that the San Ignacio Hospital grant her an abortion after tests revealed the baby is deformed.

Migdony Yolima Bernal Castillo decided to file the lawsuit after the San Ignacio Hospital ruled against granting the abortion for ethical reasons and insisted that despite the abnormalities, the baby could be saved and could live.

Castillo alleged that her unborn child, who suffers from hydrocephalus and symmetric growth, should be aborted because “it is better to live with that pain now and avoid seeing our child like this, because he has the right to a decent life.”

The hospital, operated by the Society of Jesus, said an abortion is not only unnecessary in this case, it also goes against its principles, which hospital officials said they would defend no matter what the cost.

“Because of the Hospital’s mission and ethical position, abortions will not be performed at any time,” said Dr. Julio Cesar Castellanos, director of the facility.  He said they would await a ruling from the court before deciding on what step to take next.

According to an official from the Ministry of Social Protection, the hospital can only refuse the procedure if a statement of objection to abortion signed by the doctors exists.  Colombia’s Constitutional Court has legalized abortion in cases of rape, grave deformation of the fetus and life of the mother.

However, according to the law, abortion is legal up to the twenty-second week of pregnancy, and Castillo has already reached her twenty-seventh week.  She alleges that the delay has been the result of “medical negligence,” about which the courts will decide.

According to the Secretariat of Health, an abortion at this stage would pose a risk to the life of the mother. 

Castellanos said, “We carried out an exam and we can confirm that the fetus does have serious deformations, but they are not lethal.  Other babies with similar problems have been born.”

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