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Ruling to make Abortion Legal in Colombia is Welcome

By May 11, 2006News

Release date: 12 May 2006

The Irish Family Planning Association has welcomed yesterday’s decision (11.5.06) by the Constitutional Court of Colombia to decriminalise the law on abortion.

The Court ruled that in cases where a woman’s life or health is in danger; where pregnancy was the result of rape and where the foetus has malformations incompatible with life outside the womb, abortion can now be permissible under law.

According to Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the IFPA, “this ruling is an important milestone in the provision of safe and legal abortion to women worldwide. Up until yesterday’s landmark ruling, Colombia’s abortion laws were very similar to our own in Ireland. The main difference between the two countries was that Colombian women availed of illegal – and very often unsafe abortions- in their home country while in Ireland most women travel abroad to access terminations.

“The positive ruling by the Colombian Court bodes well for the case that was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights by three Irish women last year. The grounds that this case is being taken – covering rights to privacy, protection from degrading and inhuman treatment and right to freedom – are all similar to those presented in the Case taken by Women’s Link Worldwide in Colombia.

“Ireland is now among an ever decreasing number of countries which has failed to legislate in anyway for abortion services, even in cases where the life of the women is at risk. It is important that the Irish Government considers the rationale adopted by the Colombian Court and moves to review our legal situation on this issue.

“The IFPA was among the 397 groups who submitted an amicus brief in this case. We are pleased that a number of those organisations who took an interest in the health, welfare and rights of women in Colombia, are taking a similar interest in the Irish case before the European Courts,” said Mr Behan.

Currently in Colombia 24% of all pregnancies are terminated by abortion. Nearly 30% of women who have unsafe abortions suffer complications.