Following in the footsteps of Latin American countries such as Mexico and Argentina, Colombia’s constitutional court ruled five against four to decriminalize abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, as reported by The Guardian.
Prior to this motion, abortion in Colombia was only permitted if the life or health of the pregnant mother was at risk, if life-threatening fetal malformations were detected, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape, incest, or non-consensual artificial insemination.
“We celebrate this ruling as a historic victory for the women’s movement in Colombia that has fought for decades for the recognition of their rights,” declares Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “Women, girls, and people able to bear children are the only ones who should make decisions about their bodies.”
Over the past few years, abortion rights groups in Colombia, collectively called the Green Wave, sued for abortion to be removed from the penal code, however, the constitutional court had decided to remain undecided on the matter on several occasions.
This indecision put many lives at risk, with reproductive rights groups estimating that as many as 400,000 abortions are performed every year in Colombia, with only 10 percent of these carried out legally. According to Profamilia, a local reproductive healthcare provider, at least 26,223 unsafe abortions took place in 2020.
While many women’s rights activists celebrate this momentous victory in Colombia’s history, there is still work to be done across Latin America, a traditionally conservative region with dominant Catholic and evangelical Christian influence. The region as a whole has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws.
The feelings surrounding the decriminalization of abortion in Colombia are summed up well by Eugenia Lopez Uribe, the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s regional director for Americas and the Caribbean region, who states: “While today we are celebrating this historic decision, the Green Wave is strong and growing, and the fight for reproductive rights and justice will not end until every person can access high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare when and where they need it.”