Pro-Abortion Court Revolution Targets Colombia

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
30 September 2005
Vol. 7 / No. 38
Reproduced with Permission

A tyrannical global revolution in law is underway, and the leaders of this international movement have targeted the small, turbulent country of Colombia. By their own admission, they want Colombia to be on the leading edge of legalizing abortion in Latin America. They may have their wish as soon as November of this year, and if they do, more people could end up dying than have in Colombia's long-running battle with narco-Marxist rebels.

Anti-life activists filed a constitutional challenge to Colombia's anti-abortion law earlier this year, and the Constitutional Court is scheduled to make a ruling by the beginning of December. Adopting a tactic more and more frequently used, lawyer Mónica Roa bases her suit on so-called rights that have become embedded in international law. Though she personally favors abortion on demand, Roa is asking the court to legalize abortion only in cases of rape, terminal deformity in the unborn child, and serious threat to the health of the mother. Anyone who knows anything about the history of abortion laws knows that the last exception is used by abortionists to grant abortions to all those women who seek them. For example, in the United States, an abortionist must merely certify that a woman would feel depressed if she were denied an abortion, and that qualifies her abortion for the "serious health risk" exception.

Asked how a country as heavily Catholic and pro-life as Colombia could have her abortion laws liberalized by judges, PRI Latin America director Carlos Polo replied, "Because politics is made by active minorities, not by majorities. These pro-abortion people have enough money to work full-time and build a big network." Pro-abortion international organizations funded by American and European money - tax money as well as private contributions - have been eroding Latin America's Christian and pro-family culture. This year, they could score their biggest legal victory yet in the area of abortion.

Polo traveled to Colombia in July to assist in coordinating the opposition to the lawsuit and is in frequent contact with Colombian Dr. Ilva Miriam Hoyos, a local pro-life leader. PRI has a six-member group based in Lima, Peru working with the Latin American Catholic bishops in an attempt to halt the tide of pro-abortion interference taking place in Latin America. Polo has also worked closely with Dan Zeidler, U.S. representative of the Venezuela-based Latin American Alliance for the Family.

"It is my opinion that the influence of the Faith on public life is less strong than before in Colombia," says Zeidler. "I believe there has been a significant development of a secular influence, and there is more of an openness to accept abortion on the part of some Colombians. I believe this unfortunate development is due to the trend toward secularism world-wide, and especially to the efforts over three decades by outside international organizations to change the country's traditional respect for life and family through the promotion of a contraceptive/abortion mentality."

Abortion promoter Roa has traveled to the United States and given gleeful talks and interviews on the upcoming prospect of doing an end-run around democracy in Colombia by imposing a new abortion regime through the courts (sound familiar?). "Abortion in Colombia is illegal under every circumstance. Colombia's abortion law stipulates that both the woman who has the abortion and the abortion provider can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Colombia, Chile and El Salvador are the only three countries in Latin America that prohibit abortion under all circumstances. . .," said Roa during a July 2005 Women's Human Rights Net interview. Most have certain narrow exceptions, though unfortunately, enforcement of anti-abortion laws in much of Latin America is lax.

"Although women do not go to jail for this reason often, the illegality constitutes a violation of their right to life, equality, integrity and dignity," Roa claimed. "Women are forced to risk their lives and health by getting unsafe abortions. This is how abortion is the third-leading cause of maternal mortality in Colombia, which is unacceptable given that unsafe abortion is the only cause of maternal mortality that can be prevented."

Of course, unsafe abortion can be easily prevented, by not seeking abortion in the first place. According to the World Health Organization, throughout all of Latin America and the Caribbean annually, 3,700 women die from unsafe abortion - a bad thing, but not high in the list of causes of death. Effort and money directly elsewhere would save more Latin American women's lives, not to mention those of their children.

Roa specifically cited the development of international law as a major weapon in her arsenal against the laws of her own country, proving once again how dangerous the trend in the United States toward reliance on international law really is, and how important are pro-lifers' lobbying efforts at the United Nations against inclusion of ambiguous reproductive health language in international agreements. "On one hand, the Colombian Constitutional Court has recognized the legal value of international human rights arguments and has used them to solve constitutional challenges in other areas," said Roa. "On the other hand, the international human rights arguments that frame illegal abortion as a violation of women's rights have become clearer and stronger. I am only putting those two together."

She also admits that abortion-on-demand is her goal and that of the "women's movement" in Colombia. Some women's groups say that her lawsuit doesn't ask for enough and by doing so "remind society that this is only a first step, that it is not enough, and by the way they make my arguments sound more moderate." She also said that she is "positive" that a victory in Colombia would nudge other Latin American countries in a pro-abortion direction.

Pro-lifers are not taking it lying down. "Our pro-life friends have collected 2 million signatures opposing the lawsuit," said Polo, who works with Colombian pro-life activists. "In Colombia, a minority is ruling against a Catholic majority and against reason and the law." Roa is certainly well-connected. One of the members of the Constitutional Court, Manuel José Cepeda, wrote a prologue to her book, Cuerpo y Derecho (Body & Rights).

The legal battle has led most Colombians politicians to cower in safety, unwilling to take a stand for life or for the rule of law. "Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and other top leaders have remained largely silent," reported the Chicago Tribune on September 21.

The Colombian effort is part of a worldwide revolution of destruction promoted by courts in nation after nation. Whether it is abrogating the right to religious expression, imposing same-sex marriage, forcing pornography on children, or legalizing abortion on demand, the cultural elites of the world care nothing for the rule of law or democratic self-government. Roa is affiliated with Ford Foundation-funded Women's Link International, which openly acknowledges using the courts to force ordinary people to change long-standing ways of life. "Through case studies gathered from local litigation efforts to advance women's rights across six countries -- Spain, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, Australia and Colombia -- Women's Link's Gender Justice project seeks to systematize lessons-learned from advocates asserting social change through national courts," it says. "Gender Justice provides national advocates with an array of strategies for working with the judiciary using cross-regional comparisons and international standards."

"Our enemies have invested money for decades building up anti-Christian academic groups and universities," Polo said. But two million Colombians could thwart them this time.