A victory for the reproductive rights struggle: Abortion is legalized in Colombia


— Feb. 21 — Our party has been a champion of women’s struggles, and we are convinced of the right of women to make decisions about their bodies and their lives; we have defended total decriminalization as the Bolsheviks did in Russia 102 years ago. That is why we have not hesitated to adhere to the demand of the Just Cause movement since its inception, where with more than 94 organizations and groups, we demand that the “crime” of abortion be eliminated from the Colombian penal code.

For more than 500 days, in the full chamber of the Constitutional Court, the request to eliminate the crime of abortion from the penal code, demanded by the Just Cause movement, was debated. After a long wait full of delaying maneuvers with multiple challenges, today we have achieved a historic ruling; Colombian women and girls achieve legal abortion up to 24 weeks, and as of that week the three exceptions remain in force [if the mother’s life is endangered, if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest, or if the fetus is fatally deformed].

This ruling is consistent with the progress of the debate at the social level; there are fewer and fewer people who consider that women who abort should go to jail (the number of Colombians surveyed who are against jail for women who abort went from 41% to 49%).

We believe that this is a great victory that dignifies the lives of women and girls, with which nearly 70 lives will be saved each year, thousands of complications from unsafe abortions will be avoided, and they will be prevented from being prosecuted for deciding on their bodies. We are happy to save lives, as Lorena Gelis’s could have been saved—who had a clandestine abortion in Barranquilla and died of a hemorrhage in January—a few weeks from this ruling. And we will spell it out: If abortion were not a crime, if the court had given its verdict in November [when the decision was first due], Lorena would be alive. The delay cost lives.

We also claim victory because this step is the result of the social struggle, of women, of Colombian youth who have filled the streets in the last two years. We are proud to have been part of this Just Cause, to have been and continue to be part of the cause of women against one of the worst forms of sexist oppression, the criminalization of abortion. This fight is added to that of the Argentine women, from whose example we learned, to that of the Mexican women, to that of the Ecuadorian women, who have just achieved abortion for rape—and it is a fight that is growing in the world.

But this is an incomplete victory, because abortion will continue to be a crime beyond 24 weeks, disproportionately penalizing poor, less educated, rural, young, Indigenous and Black women, who are those who consult later. We must be alert to attacks and maneuvers that anti-rights forces may try to prevent women’s access to abortion; this victory must be protected by keeping the fight in the streets. Likewise, we still have the great challenge of demanding its implementation and the elimination of barriers in the midst of a privatized and underfunded health system. So the fight will have to continue until abortion is completely decriminalized, and until we have a quality public health system.

— Women’s Commission and Executive Committee, Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores), Colombian section of the International Workers’ League

Reprinted from the PST website: http://www.magazine.pstcolombia.org/2022/02/victoria-de-la-lucha-el-aborto-es-legal/

Leave a Reply