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Colombia Court Decision Strikes Down Complete Abortion Ban

05-12-2006

Issuing a striking statement of concern for the women of Colombia, that nation’s highest court voted 5-3 to legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.

“It is about time that the Colombian courts protect the health and well being of Colombian woman,” said Carmen Barroso, Western Hemisphere Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF/WHR).  “Study after study has shown that outlawing abortion does not eliminate the procedure; it only drives it underground.  Too many women have suffered the lethal consequences of this government ban.”

Despite Colombia’s complete ban on abortion, an estimated 400,000 women every year have an abortion and almost 60,000 are hospitalized from injuries resulting from the clandestine procedure.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court issued the decision despite intense lobbying from the Catholic Church. According to a 2003 survey, Catholics in Colombia favor abortion when the woman's life is in danger (73%), the woman's health is at risk (65%), in cases of serious physical or mental fetal impairment (61%), or the pregnancy is the result of rape (52%).  More than 80% of Colombians consider themselves Catholic.

“Times are changing and most every country—regardless of ethnicity, religion or traditions—has come to more and more value the lives of its women,” concluded Dr. Barroso.  “This affirmation and expansion of the right to health and choice is representative of a genuine culture of life”

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) and its Member Associations are committed to promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of women and men, in particular those most vulnerable and marginalized in society. We provide more than 18 million services a year —from contraceptive counseling and supplies to HIV prevention, testing and treatment— to the neediest people in the region.

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