Colombia Legalizes Abortion in Certain Cases

Church Reminds Faithful of Excommunication Risk

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BOGOTA, Colombia, JULY 23, 2001 ( Colombia´s bishops said they would file suit today against clauses of the new penal code that would allow abortion in certain cases.

The new code, which takes effect Tuesday, already has been criticized for legalizing offenses such as bigamy and marriage between siblings.

Jurist Pedro Alfonso Pabón said: «The change in the crime of abortion consists simply in granting a judge the faculty not to apply the penalty, if the abortion is carried out in special circumstances.»

The Catholic Church reminded Colombians about its doctrine regarding the protection of human life. The bishops have warned doctors, interns and judges that any involvement in an abortion means automatic excommunication.

In an episcopal letter published last Wednesday, signed by all the bishops, Colombians are urged to make use of conscientious objection and reject any involvement in the «abominable crime of abortion.»

The letter reminds believers that they can plead conscientious objection legally, which means that women, doctors and judges can exempt themselves from contributing to an abortion because of their faith.

The bishops believe that the new penal code should be declared unconstitutional.

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