Ruling Allowing Induced Abortion in Colombia: a Case Study

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Centrum för tillämpad etik


The aim of this work is to present and examine the ruling on which the Colombian Constitutional Court declared the blanket criminalization of induced abortion to be unconstitutional: ruling C-355/061; all of this based in the understanding I have achieved of the Courts’ reasoning.

In the first section I will present the norms that constituted the blanket prohibition of abortion, as well as the likely situation of its practice, both by the time the Constitutional Court took up the analysis of the former. This will provide a good understanding of the importance of the ruling and its starting point. In the second section I will put forth the general nature of the Court and its rulings, inscribed in the Colombian social, political and legal transformation brought by the 1991 constitutional change. I will also bring in the specific decisions the Court made regarding the conditioned constitutionality of induced abortion and the unconstitutionality of the legal expression that equated an abortion performed on a woman less than fourteen years of age to an abortion without consent, thus punishing it harder than a consented one. Such verdict is the starting point of an effort to trace, present and examine the ethical arguments the Court has woven to reach it, all of which will be undertaken in the third section.

In the fourth section I shall elaborate on two of the common ethical elements that work as corner stones for the Court’s arguments: human dignity and the belief that fundamental rights and constitutional protected goods are not absolute; I will particularly point out how they play a role in the Court’s argumentation. As a conclusion I will offer a final general appraisal of the Court’s work.

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