The arguments occurring in the United States against women and their sexual and reproductive rights are loud echoes of the public debate in Colombia. The string of laws that in the U.S. have limited access to the voluntary ending of pregnancies resemble the recent attempts of several congressmen in our country (Colombia) to influence the Constitutional Court to alter its jurisprudence in this regard. If these attempts succeed, the result will be a disaster for the health and well-being of women, as well as a violation of their fundamental human rights.
Since Donald Trump became president of the United States and has had the opportunity to nominate two new judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, the women’s anti-choice movement has been restored. This year alone, in different states, 30 legislative initiatives have been presented to limit access to abortion and even go so far as to criminalize women who terminate their pregnancies. The hope is that these laws will be challenged and reach the Supreme Court and that the conservative majority will modify precedent that for 40 years has protected the right to abortion in the country.
As The New York Times reports, the legislative agenda against women has been tireless. In April, Indiana banned the most common type of second-trimester abortion in that state. Within a few days, Ohio banned abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy if a “heartbeat” of the fetus has been detected. This week, Alabama not only banned all types of abortion without any exception but also criminalized it; doctors who voluntary end pregnancies can spend up to 99 years in prison.
These rules are problematic for several reasons. Prohibiting abortions after six weeks, for example, is in practice eliminating the overwhelming majority of procedures, because it is at this time that women often begin to realize that they are pregnant. By banning later-term pregnancies, legislatures are condemning the more complex cases which usually also involve risks to the health of the women involved. To speak of the “heartbeat” is, though not a technical term, a way to adopt a cruel advertising strategy that seeks to manipulate women and blur any serious debate that might be needed on the subject. Alabama’s law does not even allow women to end pregnancies that have resulted from incest or rape.
There is an abundant lack of consistency in this debate. Recently, Trump said that late abortions consist of women who give birth and then meet with their doctors to decide to “execute” the child. Like much of what the U.S. president says and does, that statement would be laughable, if it did not have such perverse consequences.
Although none of the aforementioned laws will be able to take effect until the Supreme Court rules on them, many women throughout the U.S. have expressed the uneasiness they feel about what has happened. When illiberalism triumphs, fear spreads like fire.
As previously mentioned, Colombia is not far from having this situation as well. The strategies of the American anti-choice movements are being replicated by Colombians. A month ago, several congressmen, including María del Rosario Guerra, Alejandro Ramírez, Paola Holguín and Paloma Valencia, presented a request to annul the Constitutional Court ruling that banned abortion limitations based on the number of weeks of pregnancy. The objective is to weaken the law so that the legislatures can introduce bills similar to those that have been discussed. We cannot allow this attack against the women of our country to happen.