Colombia’s 2022 decriminalization of abortion

In 2006, the Constitutional Court of Colombia (“the CCC”) recognized abortion was key to the self-determination, privacy, and health of women, and legalized abortion under three limited circumstances. These limited rights, coupled with barriers of culture and medical “conscience,” did little to alter actual access, especially for poor women. After a concentrated multi-year campaign aiming to “socially decriminalize” abortion, the Causa Justa Movement helped begin a change of public opinion around abortion, “link[ing] the idea that freedom of women is a fundamental element for the exercise of citizenship,” as one of the leaders framed it. Causa Justa brought suit challenging the criminalization of abortion as counterproductive, discriminatory, and unjust. In February of 2022, the CCC decriminalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Even as the backlash has mounted focused on the 24 weeks cut-off period for a criminal prosecution,  the success of the movement’s innovative strategies marks an important shift in national and transnational understandings of the constitutional community.