By Sofia Martinez of Alliance Defending Freedom
On May 6, Colombia’s Senate unanimously voted that there is no “right to abortion.”
This is a milestone for pro-lifers in Colombia who have been in a fierce battle with abortion advocates who want to establish abortion as a right. Abortion activists have even gone so far as to exploit rape victims to make this happen.
But their strategy failed when Colombia’s Senate passed law 244/2013 to protect female victims of sexual violence but excluded language establishing abortion as a right.
When the new law was first introduced in Colombia’s Senate, it was billed as a humanitarian effort to provide justice to victims of sexual violence, especially those in armed conflict. These women would be provided with restitution against their perpetrators, as well as access to abortion if they became pregnant as a result of the crime committed against them.
But the initial law went beyond simply trying to protect victims of sexual violence. Article 13 of the bill tried to establish abortion as a right by contending that victims of rape must have access to justice, and the “right” to be informed and advised about the possibility of continuing or suspending their pregnancy. This language would set a highly destructive precedent, paving the way for abortion on demand.
Pro-lifers grasped the grave consequences of the bill’s language and intervened. Alliance Defending Freedom, in conjunction with many other pro-life organizations, asked the Senate to reconsider Article 13. They rightly argued that this clause violates Colombian national law and its human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the American Convention on Human Rights, all of which recognize the “right to life.”
Senator Claudia Wilches Sarmiento responded to the call to amend Article 13 by excluding reference to abortion as a right. The final version of the bill that passed omits the reference, stipulating instead that victims of rape “should be” informed and advised about continuing or suspending their pregnancy. Although this language is far from ideal, it is a significant improvement from the original text that established abortion as a “right.”
But despite what abortion advocates in Colombia want you to believe, abortion is not a right. In fact, Colombia has historically been a pro-life country with Article 11 of its Constitution stating that the “right to life is inviolable.”
Sadly in 2006, Colombia became one of the first countries in Latin America to legalize abortion under three circumstances: pregnancy as the result of rape or incest; the health or life of the mother is endangered; or the fetus is unlikely to survive or suffers fetal malformation. Since then, abortion advocates have pushed for Colombia to legalize abortion under all circumstances.
Colombia greatly values women and understands the sacrifice those in armed conflict make to serve their country. It is unfortunate that abortion activists want to use these honorable women who suffered a great tragedy to advance their agenda.
Although debate on abortion continues throughout Latin America, popular opinion firmly supports the defense of human life. By rejecting language on the “right to abortion,” the Colombian Senate upheld the views of the majority of Colombia’s citizens who champion the right to life.
Sofia Martinez serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom in Mexico City.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an international alliance-building legal organization that advocates for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family. Alliance Defending Freedom is at the forefront of legal battles in these areas, with more cases before the European Court of Human Rights than any other faith-based legal organization, and involvement in numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Alliance Defending Freedom has an alliance of nearly 2,300 attorneys worldwide. ADF is also accredited with the European Parliament, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, and Organization for American States, and has consultative status with the United Nations.