The president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, rejected Tuesday the Constitutional Court’s decision to depenalize abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
“We are facing a decision that concerns the entire Colombian society and five people cannot propose something as atrocious to a nation as allowing a life to be interrupted up to six months of gestation,” the president told Colombian media Feb. 22.
On Feb. 21, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled 5-4 that abortion “will only be punishable when performed after the twenty-fourth (24) week of pregnancy and, in any case, this time limit will not apply to the three grounds established in ruling C-355 of 2006.”
This means that until the 24th week of pregnancy, abortion will not be a punishable crime, and that after this period it can be performed with no upper gestational limit on the grounds of risk to the life of the mother, sexual abuse, or fetal deformity.
The court ruling asks Congress and the national government to implement a comprehensive public policy that, among other things, eliminates "any obstacle to the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights that are recognized in this ruling."
Duque also told the media that he is “a pro-life person, I have always been a pro-life person. I believe, as the Constitutional Court itself also stated a long time ago, that life begins with conception.”
The president then warned that the court's decision could lead to "abortion in Colombia becoming a means of contraception."
Duque stressed that "we also need to address this discussion in the body whose competence it really is, which is the Congress of the Republic, as several of the judges have noted in their vote."
The president of Colombia also explained that the Constitutional Court “is breaking the principle of constitutional res judicata (irreversibly decided already) because the Court had already ruled on this matter quite some time ago, in 2006, and the Court had established three exceptional reasons for interrupting a pregnancy.”
The president also pointed to the fact that with a 24-week-old baby “we are talking not about a life in gestation but a life with expectation of being born. We are talking about interrupting a life that has a very clear developmental process.”
The Colombian bishops also decried the ruling Feb. 22, say that “to hold that the rights to life and to receive the protection of the State, protected by the Constitution, aren’t protected from the moment of conception, is an affront to human dignity.”
“Protecting the supposed right to take an innocent human life puts at risk the very foundation of our social order and the rule of law. Direct abortion is an immoral act and a violent practice contrary to life.”
The bishops said that sometimes "the reality of abortion responds to human dramas that entail multiple difficulties and anguish for the mother and those in her life especially when the pregnancy is the consequence of sexual violence or must be faced in conditions of abandonment, exclusion or economic hardship.”
“In these cases, when the woman is a victim, it is reasonable that both civil society and the legal system provide for her defense and protection. However, we consider that claiming a right ceases to be legitimate if it involves denying or trampling on the rights of others.”
The bishops recalled that "the fact that every pregnancy involves the existence of another human being, distinct from the mother, in conditions of helplessness and vulnerability, who in turn has the right to be part of the human family, cannot be covered over or minimized.”
The bishops questioned whether "there weren’t other ways to safeguard the lives of the mothers together with that of their unborn children,” saying that “the problem of abortion cannot be limited only to pregnant women, but demands the solidarity of the entire society.”
The bishops stated that "where evil stands as the only option, we want to be the first to help find the good option when abortion seems to be the solution" and that they do this "in the name of the One who came to bring life in abundance.”
The bishops proposed this "in the hope that the State, as well as all compatriots of good will, will spare no effort to protect and promote human life, even in the most complex circumstances."
In a Feb. 21 video, Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio of Bogotá, president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, recalled that "the Colombian Constitution says that life is the fundamental right of all citizens and from here proceed the other rights that are defended in Colombia and around the world.”
The archbishop said that "for us believers, in addition to being a natural right," life "is a gift from God and we will continue to announce, defend and promote human life, from gestation to natural death."