by Steven Ertelt
May 11, 2006
Bogota, Colombia (LifeNews.com) — The highest court in Colombia has weakened the South American nation’s abortion law by changing it from a complete ban on abortions to allowing them in cases of rape or incest. The court also allowed abortions in very rare situations when it could be necessary to save the life of the mother.
The 5-3 ruling by the Colombia constitutional court puts the nation’s abortion law in line with most other South American nations, which prohibit abortion but allow them in the rare cases.
The court also ruled that abortions could be done in cases where the baby has severe physical and mental disabilities.
There is an outside chance that pro-life advocates could appeal the ruling, and a determination on that will be made int he next couple of days. Should an appeal occur, it would likely be years down the road, once some of the pro-abortion judges are off the court.
Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com the decision "is a monumentous defeat for unborn children in Latin America."
Should the ruling stand, El Salvador and Chile will be the only Latin American nations to completely prohibit abortions.
Attorney Monica Roa, affiliated with the pro-abortion group Women’s Link, applauded the decision, saying "This is a victory for women unparalleled in our country." She led the court battle to weaken the abortion ban.
"We must educate people as to the meaning of this decision and work with all of the branches of government so that when the first woman comes forward needing a legal abortion, she will be able to exercise this right," she said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained.
Rojas told LifeNews.com that Roa’s group was trying to use "the ‘American approach’ to legalizing abortion on demand in Colombia" by getting abortion approved in the courts.
"The ramifications for the women, the families and the children of Colombia will be as disastrous as they have been in the United States," he added.
Roa’s group claims that about 24 percent of pregnancies in Colombia end in abortion, despite the ban.
Before the ruling, the nation’s Catholic leaders took out newspaper ads saying abortion is "a moral problem and not an issue of public health." It opposed changing the country’s abortion law.
President Alvaro Uribe also voiced his concerns about the court’s decision saying he worried that abortions would be done for any reason by abortion practitioners seeking to exploit the court’s ruling.
Pro-life groups countered with a submission of two million signatures from Colombia residents who opposed making abortion legal.
Meanwhile, a poll last year conucted by the RCN radio network found 65.6% of the public backed the ban on abortion.
Magaly Llaguno, director of Vida Humana Internacional, which has helped pro-life groups in Colombia, says many other pro-abortion groups based in the U.S. signed on to the lawsuit Roa filed, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Catholics for a Free Choice, and several student pro-abortion organizations.
In 1994, Chief Magistrate Antonio Barrera ruled that “the Constitutional protection of human life begins at the moment of conception, considering that a separate human life exists apart from the mother.”
The high court also ruled that the right of a couple to limit the number of children they will raise ends at the “moment of conception of a new human life.”
The move to overturn pro-life laws is also taking place in other South American nation’s and lawmakers in Brazil are expected to vote any day on whether to legalize all abortions in the early part of pregnancy.