Colombia’s highest court legalizes abortion up to 24 weeks

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Before the ruling, Colombia allowed abortions only when a woman’s life was in danger, a fetus had malformations or a pregnancy resulted from rape.

Now women in Colombia will be able to get abortions until the 24th week of their pregnancy without having to provide any justification. After the 24th week of pregnancy, abortion will still be restricted to women whose health is in danger.

“We were trying to get the complete decriminalization of abortion … but this is still a historic step,” said Cristina Rosero, a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group that was one of five organizations that filed a lawsuit in 2020 to get the high court to review Colombia’s abortions laws.

The lawsuit argued that restrictions on abortion discriminated against women from low income areas for whom it was harder to get legal abortions, because they had less access to doctors, lawyers or psychologists who could help them to prove that carrying out pregnancies would put their health at risk.

Rosero said the changes made to Colombian law will now make it easier for people of lower income levels to access safe abortions.

“Our challenge now is to ensure that this ruling is implemented” she said.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba also allow abortions without restrictions until certain stages of pregnancy, while in Mexico a supreme court ruling recently said that women cannot cannot be tried in court for terminating their pregnancies.

Latin America is also a region where some countries prohibit the termination of pregnancy without exception, like in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

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