Profamilia was part of a 27-member abortion rights group called Causa Justa – also known as the Green Wave because of their iconic use of the colour- which sued to have abortion removed from the penal code. The constitutional court ruled five against four in their favour, to pass what is now known as ruling C-055 of 2022. With this ruling, Colombia joins Argentina and Mexico as countries in Latin America which have, against the odds, significantly lowered the legal barriers to access safe abortion.
In 2006, some limitations on abortions were rolled back in Colombia but they did not go far enough. Then, abortions were allowed only when a woman’s life was in danger, a foetus had malformations, or pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or non-consensual artificial insemination. Although Ruling C-355 of 2006 was a fundamental step forward, 15 years after it was issued, criminalisation, stigma and the multiplicity of barriers to accessing safe and timely services showed that we had to move towards a model that guarantees women’s health and lives.
After 15 years of advocacy and two years of failed attempts to get the constitutional court to listen to their case, women’s rights activists finally got results.
Now, Colombian women can get abortions until the 24th week of their pregnancy without having to provide any justification. This is the longest time limit for legal abortion in the region.
But even as the success is being celebrated, there is still work to be done; in Colombia and across the region. The hope is that the decriminalisation of abortion will serve as an inspiration to other countries in Latin America and the world that maintain legislation that limits the autonomy and capacity of women to decide about their lives and their bodies.