Sunday, August 29, 2010

Colombia's Abortion Issue

An illicit abortion clinic in central Bogotá advertises itself as a women's health clinic.
In 2006 Colombia's supreme court legalized abortion in cases of rape, incest, danger to the woman's life and when the fetus has some severe deformation, making Colombia's one of the most progressive abortion laws in Latin America.

Since then, 649 legal abortions have been carried out, 61 percent based on fetal deformation, 20 percent on danger to the woman's life and 19 percent because the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

After three years, 650 legal abortions is an absurdly tiny number in a nation of 45 million people, where gender violence is relatively common and maternal mortality is high.

Nevertheless, for the procuradora general that number is apparently too high. In any case, she's been asking why the percentage of legal abortions justified by fetal deformity is so high. Is this disguised eugenics? Abortion for convenience? Neither of those explanations is likely, since even when they have a legal justification to abort, girls and women encounter many obstacles, in particular from doctors and hospitals who profess Catholic values. Rather, those looking for abortions of convenience will simply go to the many ilicit abortion mills which continue doing lively business across Colombia.

In contrast to the apparent crackdown on legal abortion is the Colombian legal system's great tolerance of drunk drivers - even including those who kill people. In recent years, with few exceptions, many drunks who injured and even killed people have been given house arrest - sending the message that drinking is all good, innocent fun, that it's not really their fault and that it's no big deal, anyway. Is there a pattern here? Perhaps it is that it's women who get pregnant, so why not make them responsible, while it's generally men who drunk and drive, who we'll laugh it off.

This blog written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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