BOGOTA – Protesters gathered on Sunday in front of the Palace of Justice in Bogota, where the Constitutional Court is located, to demand that abortion be legalized in Colombia.
The demonstration, in which some 50 women participated, took place 11 days after 91 social organizations and 134 activists filed a lawsuit before the Constitutional Court to eliminate the crime of abortion from the Penal Code for “violating the fundamental rights of women and of health personnel.”
“We are demonstrating for the right to decide, because we have the ability to decide about our bodies, our ovaries, whether or not we want to have a daughter or son,” Andrea, one of the women who participated in the protest, told EFE.
Colombian law allows for abortions under three circumstances: if the pregnancy puts the woman’s life or health at risk, if the pregnancy is a product of rape or incest, or if the fetus is fatally deformed.
These three grounds were approved in 2006 by the Constitutional Court and ratified by the same court in 2018.
During the demonstration, protesters covered graffiti that had been painted earlier this week by anti-abortion movements that read “Colombia is pro-life.”
It was replaced by new graffiti with the main message “It will be law,” in reference to the demand that the high court must study, as well as other phrases such as “Free abortion,” “We are the cry of those who are no longer here” and “Patriarchy and capital, criminal alliance.”
“We are saying ‘here we are,’ ‘we are together,’ we are to support each other and to shout that our bodies belong to us and we are able to make our own decisions about our body,” said Andrea.
The Causa Justa (Just Cause) Movement, which is made up of social organizations and activists, is asking the court to declare Article 122 of the Penal Code, which establishes abortion as a crime, as unconstitutional.
The movement considers Article 122 unfair to women because it violates their fundamental rights.
For the NGO Women’s Link, the grounds that were approved in 2006 represented a “milestone in Latin America and the Caribbean,” but this has not prevented the persistence of “structural barriers that hinder the access to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.”
“Criminalization is the main obstacle. Women in Colombia continue to face the risk of being prosecuted, going to jail, or being subjected to discrimination and social stigma when they seek access to safe abortion care, largely due to the fact that abortion continues to be considered as a crime in the Penal Code,” the NGO added.
Andrea said that the groups promote legalization of abortion so that “all girls anywhere” can have a safe termination and to pave a way so that “women who live on the margins of Colombian society can also abort and have access to information.”
“There is no access to information. You are told that there are three reasons, but they do not tell you that the health circumstance also involves your mental health. We also want to reach these girls who are in violent contexts, in families that are often very violent, and they are forced to give birth, which is extremely terrorizing because no one should be forced to be a mother,” Andrea added.