Speed Reads

Abortion Rights

Colombia decriminalizes abortion for up to 24 weeks

Colombia's Constitutional Court on Monday decriminalized abortion for up to 24 weeks, making Colombia the latest in a string of Latin American countries to increase access to abortion. Argentina's Congress legalized all abortions up to 14 weeks in late 2020 and Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalized the procedure last September. In Colombia, abortions were only legal in cases of rape, if the mother's life or health was in danger, or if the fetus was malformed. 

The court's 5-4 ruling, following one justice recusing himself and a court-appointed tiebreaker being added to the case, also urged Colombia's Congress to come up with rules to implement the ruling. 

The proponents of greater abortion rights argued that Colombia's 2006 rules were discriminatory against poorer and more rural women, telling the court that nearly all of the nearly 3,000 people prosecuted for abortions between 2006 and 2020 were in rural areas, with some girls as young as 11. At least 346 people were convicted in those cases, and the punishment is up to three years in prison, The New York Times notes. About 70 people die from illegal abortions each year in Colombia, according to the health ministry.

"As Latin American countries move to expand abortion rights, lawmakers in the United States are racing to restrict them," The Washington Post reports, and the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing "whether to weaken or overturn the 1973 landmark decision that established the right to an abortion."