Tags: U.N.-Funded | Lawyers | File | Suit | Force | Change | Columbia

U.N.-Funded Lawyers File Suit to Force Change in Columbia Abortion Laws

Thursday, 12 May 2005 12:00 AM

Roa claims that she is not seeking to legalize all abortion in Colombia, only to permit it in extreme cases such as rape, fetal impairment incompatible with life outside the womb, and when the woman's life or health is in danger. However, pro-life groups are concerned that creating a broad "health" exception is equivalent to legalizing all abortion.

Indeed, WLW's website suggests that "health" is equivalent to "the woman's best interest for her physical, psychological or emotional well-being," and may include "psychological anguish" such as "the anguish caused by dire socio-economic circumstances." WLW also proposes the World Health Organization's definition, which states that "health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Colombia outlaws abortion in all circumstances, classifying it as a crime against life and personal integrity. In 1994, Columbia's Constitutional Court affirmed that human life begins at conception, that life is an essential value protected by the Constitution as the basis of all other rights, and that human procreative freedom cannot extend beyond the moment of conception. In 1997, the Court found that even in cases of rape, the right to abortion "can never be understood to take precedence over the life of the unborn."

WLW claims that Colombia's ban on abortion "violates obligations obtained by ratifying international human rights treaties." The WLW cites recommendations by several UN treaty-compliance committees that have asked Colombia to liberalize its abortion laws. These include the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which in 1999 told Colombia that its "legal provisions on abortion constitute a violation of the rights of women to health and life and of article 12" of the CEDAW Convention.

WLW's website claims that Roa's lawsuit "will hopefully provide an example for NGOs around the world on engaging in the courts."

Copyright 2005 - C-FAM

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Roa claims that she is not seeking to legalize all abortion in Colombia, only to permit it in extreme cases such as rape, fetal impairment incompatible with life outside the womb, and when the woman's life or health is in danger. However, pro-life groups are...
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2005-00-12
Thursday, 12 May 2005 12:00 AM
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