Will the green tide triumph in Colombia? The Constitutional Court is already debating the decriminalization of abortion beyond the three causes

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The Constitutional Court of Colombia began to debate the decriminalization of abortion in a climate of uncertainty regarding the position that the nine magistrates will assume, and in the midst of the intense activisms in favor and against the proposal.

Since the body began the debate last Friday, feminist and religious organizations carried out mobilizations in the streets and campaigns on social networks to try to influence the decision, which will be taken no later than the end of November.

Since 2006, abortion has been decriminalized in Colombia if the woman’s life is in danger, due to rape and incest, and due to malformations of the fetus.

Nevertheless, Article 122 of the Penal Code continues to establish penalties of 16 to 54 months in prison for women who voluntarily terminate their pregnancies without adjusting to the three causes, and whoever helps them to achieve it.

That is why the Court is now analyzing two unconstitutional appeals that aim to stop women from being criminalized for having abortions.

One was presented by the president of the court, José Lizarazo, from a lawsuit initiated by the feminist collective Causa Justa; and another, Judge Alberto Rojas Ríos in response to a request from the lawyer Andrés Mateo Sánchez Molina.

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The discussion is part of the recent advances made by women’s movements in the region and which are known as “the green tide”, since It is the color of the scarf that symbolizes the fight for abortion rights and that they show in a massive way in the demonstrations.

One of the culminating moments of this struggle occurred on December 30, when the Congress of Argentina legalized abortion. Nine months later, the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico surprised by decriminalizing this practice with the unanimous vote of its members. Two weeks later, the Chilean Chamber of Deputies also approved decriminalization, but the Senate’s endorsement is still missing.


To decriminalize abortion in Colombia at least five of the nine votes are required that is in the Constitutional Court.

For now, it is expected that José Fernando Reyes, Alejandro Linares, Alberto Rojas Ríos and José Lizarazo will vote in favor, and against Gloria Ortiz and Cristina Pardo, but there is no certainty about the position of Jorge Enrique Íbañez, Paola Meneses and Diana Fajardo .

Part of the uncertainty is due to the lack of knowing the details of the presentations by Rojas Ríos and Lizarazo, and to debate them in plenary session. In both cases, the central thesis is that Article 122 of the Penal Code should be declared unconstitutional because it discriminates against women.

On the other hand, last week the Ipsos Consultant revealed that, according to a poll global, in Colombia legalization of abortion only has 26% support and that 9.0% consider it inadmissible in any circumstance. On the contrary, 36% approve it only in certain cases.

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Beyond the fact that social support is not majority, the Causa Justa movement warns that the right to abortion in Colombia is not fully guaranteed, since there are doctors who rely on conscientious objection so as not to interrupt pregnancies even if they comply with any of the three grounds that are already decriminalized.

The report ‘Criminalization for the crime of abortion in Colombia’, which this organization carried out together with the Universidad de Los Andes and the Mesa por la Vida y Salud de las Mujeres, revealed that there are 5,737 processes for the crime of abortion in the Attorney General’s Office, and that in 450 penalties were already handed down.

One of the most outstanding data of the document, which was presented last July, is that it shows that since 2006, when decriminalization was achieved for reasons, complaints instead of being reduced, increased to an average of 400 a year.

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