This is how the groups that seek to keep abortion a crime in Colombia act | Society

A group of people protested outside Profamilia, an entity that offers reproductive health services in Colombia, on October 30.
A group of people protested outside Profamilia, an entity that offers reproductive health services in Colombia, on October 30.Chepa Beltran (Long Visual Press/Universal Imag)

“Let’s not tire of tiring them. Tweet, tag the Court, spread the message to your friends and family ”. The call to harass the magistrates of the Constitutional Court of Colombia is made by Samuel Ángel, who calls himself coordinator of the ‘pro-life Army’, one of the movements that try to prevent the Constitutional Court from decriminalizing abortion.

Since file D0013956, which contains the lawsuit that seeks to eliminate the interruption of pregnancy as a crime, was opened, the magistrates have received thousands of messages on Twitter, via email and sometimes, live, at the door of the Constitutional Court. Only between October 2 and 3, the lawyers received more than 1,500 emails, according to an investigation coordinated by Public Eye .

The organization that Samuel Ángel claims to be the leader of is just one of the many that have intervened in the process that, according to the times of the Court, should have lasted around six months, but which has lasted for more than a year. The anti-rights and religious groups have taken advantage of an open and democratic space that the Constitutional Court opens to know the opinions of any Colombian about the processes they are carrying out. His messages have been massive, many identical. “I pray to God that your consciences are stronger than external pressures. Do not allow this evil to be done to Colombia, or to humanity, “says one of the emails, revealed by the portal La Silla Vacía. Attached to the message is a screenshot of a video where a dismembered baby drawing appears and begs the magistrates to see it.

Emails of that style, with biblical references, are repeated over and over again. There are also others in which they say that the issue does not correspond to the Constitutional Court because it does not “represent the people.” The magistrates have read all the positions in a task that some of them described as “wasteful”, but the movements against abortion have pointed on several fronts and have even asked for the annulment of the file. At least two people are being investigated for trying to sabotage the work of the Court under the strategy of presenting legal remedies that end up postponing the central debate. Every time there is a request for annulment or a challenge in any case, the full court must meet to review it and with this the discussion on the file slows down.

“The arguments of the anti-abortion groups have changed. Before they were based mostly on religion, now they try to talk about laws, about the Constitution. They seek to mask their religious and moral position, ”says a former court official, who prefers that her name not be published and who explains that the projects discussed there are participatory, anyone who has an opinion on the matter can express it. “There are processes that pass without much incident, with four or five citizen interventions, but there are others like this one that received many more,” he says.

The efforts of religious and anti-rights movements to prevent abortion from being decriminalized are in addition to what they have been doing, without success, since 2006 when the same Court resolved a lawsuit and allowed the interruption of pregnancy under three grounds. Since then they have tried to reverse what is already legal and that under any circumstance women have to face a judicial process. There are names that have been repeated since then in messages to the court to ask for the total criminalization of abortion.

The movements that oppose the termination of pregnancy have found in the Democratic Center, the party of former president Álvaro Uribe, support for their arguments. This week, the candidates of that party for the presidential elections of 2022 were blunt in stating that they reject total decriminalization. “If we have the capacity to carry a child in our womb, how are we going to propagandize death,” said María Fernanda Cabal. “I do not believe in the expansion of the causes that the Constitutional Court has today,” said Paloma Valencia. His messages have served as support for politicians related to Uribism to fill social networks with ideas about the termination of pregnancy that include lies and even photos of bloody babies. In the last week, they have managed to position trends in which they point out to the magistrates of not respecting life if they decide to rule in favor of the lawsuit.

From the other shore there have also been marathons of messages in networks. Feminist movements, however, have tried to make their arguments based on medicine and legal aspects, which is at the center of the current debate. “The criminalization of abortion does not deter a woman who is determined to do it. Only between 1% and 2% abort through the health system under the established causes, ”explains Mariana Ardila, a lawyer for the Women’s Link organization, one of the platforms that filed the lawsuit. “If they talk about protecting life in pregnancy, the criminal law does not fulfill that function, abortions will continue to exist. If we pass the conversation on to the health system, which is where we can work to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions, we can reach a common point ”, adds Ardila.

Those who insist that women who decide on their bodies face criminal proceedings have tried in recent months to get the case in the hands of Congress, where human rights issues are not a priority on the agenda and can take years to resolve or stay in limbo. This week, for example, the law that seeks to regulate death with dignity failed again in that area. “Glory to God! For the third time we managed to sink the euthanasia bill, ”wrote Carlos Eduardo Acosta, a doctor and congressman who is also against abortion, in a tweet. Killing is not a medical act. We made a Hippocratic oath to save lives and if they want to kill someone, they can do it in the courtroom or in a platoon ”, reads another of the many messages against the Constitutional Court, which without having made his decision is already the target of hateful messages.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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