A Feast for Life

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
9 December 2005
Vol. 7 / No. 48
Reproduced with Permission

In the Catholic country of Colombia, on the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Constitutional Court rejected an attempt to legalize abortion in a case that was meant to be a model for Latin America. Well-funded American and European pro-abortion groups backed Colombian activist Monica Roa in the now-familiar tyrannical strategy favored by advocates of death in so many countries: If you cannot change the law through the proper channels and democratic activism, use the courts to impose your will.

PRI Latin American Director Carlos Polo helped coordinate opposition to the lawsuit, now dismissed by a 5 to 3 (with one abstention) vote of the court. "The outcome is incredible," he says. "Everything was against us." Pro-lifers thought that the pro-abortion side had a majority on Colombia's highest constitutional court (don't they always?), and perhaps they do, but the court refused to hear Roa's complaint due to inadequate legal arguments. Roa's complaint was officially brought by Women's Link Worldwide, for which she works. A second complaint, not brought by Roa, was also rejected.

"The decision is very important for us in the pro-life movement in Latin America," Polo says. "Everyone in the pro-life movement in Latin America will feel empowered. Abortion is still a crime in Colombia, under every circumstance. No exceptions."

Roa used arguments increasingly familiar in American courts. She claimed that Colombia's international treaty commitments required the liberalization of domestic abortion laws, which highlights once again the importance of keeping "reproductive health rights" out of international treaty language. She made it clear that she wanted abortion on demand legalized but sought specifically to create exceptions to save the life of the mother (which are never needed with today's technology), to kill a severely disabled unborn child not expected to live long after birth, rape, and incest.

"It's clear that they made their best effort," Polo says. Roa, an attractive young legal activist of color with fashionably leftist views, had the backing of major and minor Western pro-abortion groups from the International Planned Parenthood Federation to the Ford Foundation to Catholics for a Free Choice. She came to the United States to spread the word about the Colombian case and had previously spent two years at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York. She is, or at least was, a rising star in the set of left-wing internationally-oriented litigators and activists employing every means possible to circumvent republican self-government and implement their fascist model for society whether it is abortion, family destruction, speech codes, radical environmentalism, socialism, or the like. American and European groups have been raising a farm team of Latin American lawyers and activists to alter the relatively pro-life cultures of these poor nations, and have unfortunately made a lot of progress. But not on the feast day.

The president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, must be relieved. Asked if Uribe is pro-life, Polo replied, "I don't think so. He's a politician, you know. His wife declared in favor of Monica Roa. He was ambiguous." Now, Uribe won't have to respond to a court decision challenging the status quo.

However, Manuel Jose Cepeda, president of the Constitutional Court, left open the possibility of considering other challenges to Colombia's abortion law in the future. Even challenges based on international treaties could be considered, since the judges did not decide that such challenges are invalid, but only that Roa's did not clear the hurdle for consideration. The judges' decision rested on a number of technical points and also this very important one: They decided that her arguments rested on non-binding statements by international committees, not on the language of treaties themselves.

Pro-family group Red Futuro Colombia ("Future of Colombia Network") said in a statement after the court's decision, "The public debate generated around the issue is a gain for the defense of life. We have continually shown how it was managed through a manipulation of sentiments, with false arguments that repeatedly diverted attention from the fundamental point of discussion: the inviolable right to life. This very intent to distract was the cause of the complaint's failure. The constitutional court showed its independence by not bowing to pressures nor ideological sympathies on the part of certain opinion-makers who predicted a decision in favor of the complaint."

If Women's Link had won this case, it would most likely have been imitated in other Latin American countries. The Mother of God gave Latin American children an early Christmas gift this year.