This is the case of a 22-year-old woman in Popayán, southwestern Colombia, who chose to terminate her pregnancy on the grounds, proven by doctors, that she suffered from mental health problems and was not prepared to be a mother.
Her ex-boyfriend, Juan Pablo Medina, opposed from the outset, protested at the front of the hospital, campaigned on social media and has now criminally reported the woman, whose identity has not been publicly revealed, for the crime of murder.
Abortion in Colombia is permitted in three causalities: rape, malformation of the fetus or risk to the life of the mother, even if the threat develops already into pregnancy.
Profamilia, the private entity that performed the abortion, said that this case enters the last case and that it did so in guarantee of the constitutional rights of the young woman.
Popayán’s Health Secretary, Oscar Ospina, said: «The Ministry of Health and the (Constitutional) Court have oriented that there must be a certification from a doctor or psychologist, and in this case it was certified by the respective professional that the young woman had depression mental problems.»
There are sectors in Colombia that require abortion to be legalized in all cases. In the midst of a hard debate
Since abortion was decriminalized into three cases in 2006, dozens of people have filed legal actions seeking to criminalize abortion in any scenario.
The Constitutional Court, however, has not changed its mind.
The last of these initiatives was brought by lawyer Natalia Bernal, who asks to criminalize abortion in all pregnancy causes and that the fetus be regarded as a human being.
The lawyer is supported by Senator María del Rosario Guerra del Centro Democrático, the party led by former President Alvaro Uribe and of which the current president, Ivan Duque, is part.
The 7-month case is on the eve of the Court’s decision on these two lawsuits, which have provided an unexpected scenario for the plaintiff: Judge Alejandro Linares took the opportunity to propose a complete decriminalization of abortion until week 12 gestation.
Why are there mothers who come to 7 months?
In Colombia, 16,878 legal abortions are performed per year, according to 2018 figures of Profamilia, but the controversy of this case in Popayán has to do with the 7 months gestation, when thousands of babies are born and treated in neonatal units.
The Constitutional Court did not time overtime the third cause of abortion – or the other two – because there are cases where the mother’s life is put at risk at the end of gestation: incompatibility of the fetus with the mother’s intrauterine route , for example, a fact that can only be diagnosed after week 20.
But people like Senator War argue that this violates the constitutional right to life: «Life is sacred because it is a wonderful gift from God, no one has the right to decide on it, in this case, not even the mother, because both – mother and nasciturus– are different beings, with their own genetic code,» he wrote in a recent column.
Guerra was the one who reported this week that the abortion had been performed and assured that Profamilia «has been a promoter of indiscriminate abortion in Colombia (…) and has set up a business around this rugged practice.»
The pro-life movements remain in place in Colombia despite judicial setbacks. The entity, which claims not to be for profit, has ratified its «commitment to the defense and guarantee of women’s sexual and reproductive rights».
92% of Profamilia’s abortions occur in the first 15 weeks, the institution says.
But there are women who fail to do so at the beginning of their pregnancy because of the obstacles established by different public and private institutions, according to specialists.
«What we should talk about is the barriers that prevent women from performing the procedure in an agile manner,» Mundo Cristina Rosero, legal adviser in Colombia at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, a US-based civil organization, tells BBC Mundo Cristina Rosero.
«The question is why a woman has to go to multiple institutions if the law says that all medical entities must provide the service regardless of whether they are secular or religious, public or private,» she adds.
The last word will be the Colombian Constitutional Court once again. One of The initiatives of Senator Guerra is precisely to expand the conscientious objection for practitioners of medicine, which in Colombia is legal with certain limitations.