Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ordered a national campaign to promote the sexual and reproductive rights of women, including the right to abortion in certain cases.
The Ministries of Social Protection, Education, the Superintendency of Health, and the Attorney and Ombudsman have been ordered by the Constitutional Court to develop a campaign to make Colombian women aware of their sexual and reproductive rights from a young age.
The move follows the case filed by a citizen who observed that her rights to human dignity, free development of personality and health had been abused, reports newspaper El Espectador.
The citizen had requested an abortion after an ultrasound revealed that the foetus was malformed, and it was recommended that an abortion was the best option. However, the attending physician claimed a conscientious objection on biblical convictions and refused to perform the abortion. Visits to a number of other doctors followed, all of whom refused to help the young woman. Ultimately she ran out of time and was forced to give birth.
The Constitutional Court noted that while citizens have a right to conscientious objection, there is a limit when it interferes with the exercise of fundamental rights of others.
Thus the Constitutional Court has ordered the bodies to produce an effective campaign for women’s sexual and reproductive rights within three months.
Caracol Radio reported that the Constitutional Court ordered the National Health Superintendency to ensure that whether they were public or private, secular or religious, that qualified medical professionals and personnel be availble to perform abortions when mandated by law.
“The exercise of conscientious objection may trigger consequences against third parties. This makes it impossible to catalog conscientious objection as an act that remains located within the internal jurisdiction of the perpetrator,” said the ruling.
In such a situation, the Court ruled, if a doctor does not agree to perform an abortion the consequences of not providing the service would bring irreversible damage to pregnant women, violating their fundamental rights.