Colombian Bishops express sadness over decriminalization of abortion
By Anna Poce - Vatican City
The Bishops of Colombia have issued a statement entitled, "Let us all have recourse to creative solidarity in favour of life," in response to the decision of the nation's Constitutional Court to decriminalize abortion within the first 24 weeks of gestation. The president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio of Bogotá, along with the Conference Vice President and Secretary-General, expressed "perplexity and deep sorrow" following Monday's 5-4 court decision. The Bishops noted that every pregnancy, in addition to the mother, also involves the existence of another human being who is defenseless and vulnerable, yet nonetheless has the right to be part of the human family.
Respect for the human dignity of all
The Bishops' statement points out that the Church recognizes "that, on many occasions, the reality of abortion responds to human dramas involving multiple difficulties and anguish for the mother and her environment, especially when the pregnancy is the result of sexual violence or must be faced in conditions of abandonment, exclusion, or economic hardship." The statement recognizes that "in these cases, when the woman is a victim, it is reasonable that both civil society and the legal system seek to defend and protect her." But it also notes, "that the claim of a right ceases to be legitimate if it implies denying or trampling on the rights of others."
"To argue that the rights to life and to receive State protection, guaranteed by the Constitution, do not cover the child from the moment of conception, is an affront to human dignity," the statement underscores, and "protecting the alleged right to suppress an innocent human life undermines the very foundation of our social order and rule of law." Direct abortion, intended as an end or as a means, the Bishops explain, "is an immoral act and a violent practice contrary to life."
The importance of support and social solidarity
In light of the Constitutional Court's decision, the Bishops' statement asked if there might be other ways to safeguard the lives of mothers and their unborn children, especially since all Colombians have a constitutional duty to act according to the principle of social solidarity, as established in Article 95 of the Colombian Constitution. The Bishops write: "We do so in the name of the One who came to bring life in abundance," and "in the hope that the State too, as well as all compatriots of good will, will spare no effort to protect and promote human life, even in the most difficult circumstances."