Debate in Colombia over broadening abortion laws

World Today

Debate in Colombia over broadening abortion laws

Colombia’s government is considering broadening its abortion laws. That has triggered a heated debate on each side of the issue.

CCTV’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.

The Colombian government is considering legalizing abortions until the 12th week of pregnancy without requiring the women to justify their decision. The announcement has brought on a debate between conservatives and liberals in the country.

Colombian law allows abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in only three cases; if the mother’s life or health is in danger, if there is fetal deformity and in the case of rape.

The Orientame Foundation provides medical, counseling services for care and prevention for sexual and reproductive health. It estimates 400,000 women have illegal abortions in Colombia each year.

This could all change with a bill proposed by the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos that would allow women to terminate pregnancy within the first 12 weeks. Abortion advocates believe this bill would increase the protection of women.

Christina Villareal, Director, Orientame Foundation says, “Restrictive laws don’t stop women from looking for termination of pregnancies, what the laws do is cause dangerous abortions because the women look for these services under secrecy.”

But the bill is expected to face stiff opposition in the socially -conservative country. The Catholic Church and some congressmen say the bill will not protect the rights of families.

Orlando Castaneda a Colombian Senator says, “People say that if an abortion is done professionally then there will be no risks, but we cannot believe that. The mother can be harmed emotionally or physically like with a hemorrhage or damage in organs.”

If the bill is passed, Colombia would join Uruguay, Guyana and French Guiana as the only South American nations where abortions are allowed upon request.