Colombia’s highest court decriminalizes abortion

Associated Press / Fernando Vergara

Colombia’s highest court on Monday issued an order decriminalizing abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

The Constitutional Court’s ruling makes Colombia the fourth Latin American country to decriminalize abortion, according to The Associated Press, following Cuba, Uruguay and Argentina. 

Judge Alberto Rojas Ríos, co-writer of the 5-4 ruling in favor of decriminalization, said the decision was “a symbol of the eternal fight for women’s freedom” and a step toward “self-determination” for Colombian women, according to The New York Times.

No other legal bodies can alter the decision, which fell short of the full decriminalization pro-abortion rights advocates had been hoping for. 

The order followed years of political organizing by women across the country.

Prior to the ruling, Colombia, a widely Roman Catholic country, allowed abortion only when the pregnancy resulted from rape, the woman’s life was at risk or the fetus had malformations.

“This puts Colombia on the vanguard in Latin America,” Mariana Ardila, a Colombian lawyer with Women’s Link Worldwide, told the Times. Ardila was also part of the coalition that brought one of two cases challenging the criminalization of abortion, the Times noted.

“This is historic,” she said. “And it means that many women, girls and adolescents who were risking their lives in unsafe places, who were being criminalized, will now be protected.” 

Tags Abortion abortion rights Abortion-rights movement Colombia Reproductive health Women's rights

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