By Nueva Democracia1
June 2023 

The Constitutional Court of Colombia is one of the institutions that has promoted abortion the most in the Latin American region, as was made clear last year with ruling C-055, which decriminalized abortion up to the 24th week of gestation without limitations. 

However, the same Court, and with a report by the same magistrate who wrote C-055, has just made necessary clarifications about last year’s ruling in a new decision2 in the case of an indigenous woman who was denied an abortion in her community, but ultimately decided to give birth to the baby. 

In this new ruling, the Court explains that abortion is not a fundamental right and that it was only decriminalized up to the 24th week of gestation; it was not legalized, nor is the health system required to practice it, except under the three exceptions established in the previous 2006 ruling (risk to the life of the mother, rape or incest and lethal fetal disability). 

The Court also warns that the Congress of the Republic is the primary regulator of the practice of abortion and that said regulation, in addition to establishing the conditions for abortion, must also include alternatives for women. It also recognizes that the legislator can set protective measures for the unborn because it is an imperative constitutional purpose. 

After deciding C-055, the government, exceeding its regulatory power, issued a resolution very favorable to the practice of elective abortion until 24 weeks’ gestation, including obligations for the health system and that minors can request an abortion without the consent of their parents. With the Court’s new clarifications, it is reaffirmed that it is not up to the government to regulate abortion until there is a law from Congress. This had already been affirmed by the State Council (highest administrative Court) when it annulled Decree 4444 of 2006, with which a previous government also tried to regulate abortion. 

This new scenario opens the possibility that in Colombia, there will be legislation favorable to life, despite the decriminalization of abortion, and that this legislation would allow a possible annulment of the abortion resolution of the current government, for which the Fundación Nueva Democracia—a pro-life organization—is preparing a lawsuit in the Council of State.

To read this report in Spanish, translate our website using the translate option within the side menu, or download the .pdf here.  

  1. Nueva Democracia (New Democracy) is a civic platform dedicated to promoting the common good by influencing public debate and decision-making. See: ↩︎
  2. Cf. ↩︎