BOGOTA – A Jesuit-run hospital in the Colombian capital was fined for refusing to terminate the pregnancy of a woman whose fetus had serious deformities, a women’s rights group said Thursday.
The sanction is the first ever to be imposed for this reason in Colombia and was levied against the San Ignacio Hospital, which at the end of last year said the reason it would not agree to abort the fetus was due to its conscientious objection to that kind of procedure.
The Colombian branch of Women’s Link Worldwide said in a communique that Bogota health authorities fined San Ignacio 11.53 million pesos ($5,165).
Though the penalty was imposed last Nov. 26, WLW was forced to file a freedom of information request to find out about it, Women’s Link program director Monica Roa told Efe.
She said the fine sets an important precedent, since “it is the first sanction imposed by a health office and the first time that punishment has been levied for abuse of institutional conscientious objection, which is not legitimate, since that can only be personal.”
Colombia barred abortion in all cases up to 2006, when the Constitutional Court decriminalized it in instances of rape, deformation of the fetus, or risk to the mother’s life.
The ruling resulted from a suit brought by WLW challenging Colombia’s total prohibition on abortion.
In the case that prompted the fine, the woman resorted to legal measures to try and get the abortion performed at San Ignacio, but she was ultimately forced to go to another hospital to terminate the pregnancy. EFE