The Constitutional Court postpones its decision: the debate in Colombia for the total decriminalization of abortion continues without being resolved

The debate in Colombia for the total decriminalization of abortion -beyond the three causes-, on which the Constitutional Court expected to make a substantive determination this Thursday, continues without being resolved. Before focusing on the legal issue, the Plenary Chamber had to decide this day whether to maintain or separate from the discussion one of the nine magistrates in charge of issuing the ruling, but the vote was tied.

With four votes in favor and four against, the tiebreaker has now been left to the assistant judge Hernando Yepes Arcila, who will have to decide whether the magistrate Alejandro Linares placeholder image It will continue to be part of the current discussion on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. His decision could take a week or two, according to sources close to the Constitutional Court, cited by El Espectador.

The discussion around Linares came after a challenge presented to the Plenary Chamber by the lawyer Ana María Idárraga in the framework of a statement by the magistrate to Semana TV on November 11, on which she accuses him of publicly expressing his position on the issue of abortion. In the framework of that interview and the appeal against him, Linares himself declared himself prevented this week from participating in the debate and left it up to his colleagues to assess whether they accept his impediment or not.

The position of the jurist it is not a secret from public opinion. He had already expressed his support for eliminating crime before because he has voted in favor of decriminalization on previous occasions. In this way, its output would represent a low sensitive for forces that have moved toward full decriminalization. For now, it is expected that, in addition to Linares, José Fernando Reyes, Alberto Rojas Ríos and José Lizarazo will vote in favor, and against, Gloria Ortiz and Cristina Pardo, but there is no certainty about the position of Jorge Enrique Ibáñez, Paola Meneses and Diana Fajardo.

November 19 was the deadline to vote on one of the two papers – that of Judge Antonio José Lizarazo – that the Constitutional Court is studying, which ask to eliminate the crime from the Code of Criminal Procedure. Nevertheless, making a decision will be delayed as a result of the Linares case. The second presentation to be evaluated – that of magistrate Alberto Rojas Ríos – has a deadline to be debated until January 2022.

Since the Constitutional Court began the debate, in mid-October, feminist and religious organizations carried out mobilizations in the streets and campaigns on social networks to try to influence the decision. Since 2006, abortion has been decriminalized in Colombia if the woman’s life is in danger, due to rape and incest, and due to malformations of the fetus.

However, article 122 of the Penal Code continues to establish penalties of 16 to 54 months in prison for women who voluntarily interrupt their pregnancies without adjusting to the three causes, and who helps them to specify it.

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