Colombian Ministry of Health Issues Resolution No. 051 to Regulate Abortion.

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Following February 2022, when the Colombian Constitutional Court decriminalized the practice of abortion until 24 weeks gestation, on January 12, 2023, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection issued resolution 051 (hereinafter the resolution) which regulates the practice of abortion. 

This resolution presents several issues that we mention below: 

It exceeds its jurisdiction.

The practice of elective abortion within the first 24 weeks of gestation should be regulated by a law issued by Congress. As with ruling C-355 of 2006, the Ministry of Health went too far in issuing a resolution regulating its practice without a prior congressional law. In 2006, the resolution was declared invalid by the Council of State.

It ignores the right of parents to know about their minor daughters’ access to abortion.

The resolution provides that girls can access abortion and does not require parents’ or a legal guardian’s consent or authorization. This lack of parental involvement undermines parental rights. 

It covers up the crime of rape of minors.

Under Colombian civil law, any woman under the age of 14 is considered a girl and as such, is incapable of consenting to a sexual act. In other words, a girl’s pregnancy is the result of the crime of sexual abuse committed against her. The resolution, in none of its sections, specifies that the abuse perpetrated against a girl must be reported to the authorities. 

It only recognizes doctors’ conscience rights.

Article 16 of the resolution specifies that only the professional directly in charge of carrying out the elective abortion procedure may object for reasons of conscience to said obligation. Thus, it leaves out all the personnel who are necessary participants in performing the abortion, such as nurses, medical assistants, and anesthesiologists. 

It imposes the practice of abortion on the entire health system.

One of the positive aspects of the ruling that we highlighted in our previous report is that the Court did not impose an obligation on the social health system to perform abortions. However, the resolution also goes too far by imposing an obligation on the entire health system and providers. 

This resolution is unconstitutional, and we hope it will be declared null and void, as was the Decree of sentence C-355, which sought to regulate the practice of abortion without a prior law. Bogotá councilor Emel Rojas will file a complaint with the Inspector General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, and there will surely be other initiatives in the same direction.