Unborn babies in Colombia will continue to be protected under the law after a high court ruled on a much-anticipated abortion case Monday.
The South American country protects unborn babies from abortion, with limited exceptions for rape, threats to the mother’s life and serious fetal anomalies.
On Monday, the Colombian Constitutional Court kept the law in place when it voted 6-3 against hearing an abortion challenge, the New York Times reports.
The case involved a pro-life lawyer, Natalia Bernal, who asked the court to protect all unborn babies from abortion, including babies with disabilities and babies conceived in rape, and abortion activists who wanted the court to legalize abortion on demand. But the judges refused to do either.
“The plaintiff hasn’t submitted sufficient arguments to call into question a constitutional judgment,” they said in a statement, according to the Buenos Aires Times.
Afterward, President Ivan Duque described the ruling as a “very important” victory for unborn babies.
“I am a pro-life person, who believes that life begins at conception,” he said.
Polls found consistently strong opposition to legalized abortion in Colombia, which is predominantly Catholic, Reuters reports.
But abortion activists, many from international groups pushing abortion on Colombia, expressed dismay that unborn babies still will be protected under the law.
“We regret that the court has decided to continue restricting women’s sexual and reproductive rights instead of setting a positive example for the region,” Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara Rosas responded to the news.
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Abortion activists had hoped the court would legalize abortion on demand through the second trimester, and the decision would prompt other South American countries to do the same. According to the Times, the Colombian court rulings are influential across the continent.
Here’s more from the report:
Colombia, with about 50 million people, is not only among the most populous and culturally influential nations in the region, but its Constitutional Court is often considered a leader when it comes to defining individual rights. A 2016 ruling by the court legalized gay marriage in Colombia.
Its often liberal rulings, however, have sometimes clashed with the country’s more conservative attitudes. The president, Iván Duque, has said that while he approved of the 2006 decision to allow abortion in some cases, he did not favor going further.
Both pro-life and abortion activists promised not to give up the fight. Unborn babies’ lives still are at risk in South America. Earlier this week, the new president of Argentina announced a bill to legalize the killing of unborn babies in his country.
Most South American countries protect unborn babies from abortion in most or all circumstances, and polls show their citizens support these laws. However, they are under intense international pressure to legalize abortion on demand. In 2015, CNA uncovered documents from U.S. billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations showing plans to push Central and South American countries to legalize the killing of unborn babies.