On the afternoon of February 21, Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, exploded in celebration and excitement as the Colombian Constitutional Court made the historic decision to decriminalize abortion up to 24 weeks. With a vote of five in favor and four against, this new law looks to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women, girls, and pregnant people.
Abortion has been allowed in Colombia since 2006 in specific cases of rape, non-viable pregnancy, or physical and/or mental risk to the pregnant person. However, that didn’t mean that below-board procedures stopped taking place as around 400,000 women underwent abortions every year.
In September of 2020, over 90 groups filed lawsuits, arguing that the criminalization of abortion only served to further alienate and push pregnant people looking for one to seek out the procedure from often times unregulated and unsafe places. It’s been over 500 days since the lawsuits were first filed and the court finally landed on this ruling.
And while this new law doesn’t decriminalize abortion in its totality, Catalina Martínez Coral, the regional director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, has called the court’s decision “[…] an impressive step forward for human and women’s reproductive rights in the country”, and invites people who may be opposed with the court’s decision to view the ruling from the point of view of pregnant peoples’ right to seek out safe procedures.
But even the opposition could not hold the celebration down, as Colombian women and people flooded the capital streets with joy and excitement to usher in this new chapter.