STOP PRESS: COLOMBIA – Abortion access will not expand in Colombia yet, court rules

Colombia’s Constitutional Court shut down alandmarkabortioncase on Monday that had divided the country. Thecase had offered what our colleagues in the movement called an opportunity to”set a precedent for the region”. But the judges decided againsttaking sides.

For 14 years, Colombian law has allowed for abortions underthree circumstances, but few legal abortions have been provided. In the last 13years, 300 legal complaints have been filed by women who were denied a legalabortion, yet only three of those cases ended in sanctions of healthcareproviders, according to Women’s Link Worldwide.

This case, brought by an anti-abortion activist, sought toeliminate even the three exceptions. In response, the abortion rights movementargued that the case offered the Court an opening to expand the right toabortion during the first months of pregnancy.

On 2 March, the magistrates announced, in a 6-3 decision, tomaintain the status quo, a move hailed both as a disappointment and a victoryforwomen’srightsactivists. “The Court is missing an opportunity toexpand abortion access,” said Paula Avila-Guillen, director of LatinAmerica Initiatives for Women’s Equality Center. “However, it’s averification that we’re not moving backward.”

The case divided the country. A February poll by Colombian magazine Semana suggested that nearly 70% of the country was opposed to greater legalisation of abortion. Protests on both sides of the political spectrum have mounted, leading up to the decision. As the Court deliberated, protesters faced off on the street outside the Court building. Al Jazeera described it as “an invisible ideological wall [that] seemed to run along the city’s main street, dividing the two groups, who screamed at each other”. But the public conversation will continue.

SOURCE: AlJazeera, by Megan Janetsky, 3 March 2020 ; PHOTOS: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters