Colombia: Country Context

  • Since 2006, abortion has been legal in Colombia under three circumstances (Constitutional Court. Sentence C-355): when a doctor certifies that the life or health of the pregnant woman is threatened, when a doctor certifies that the fetus has an abnormality incompatible with life, and when a pregnancy results from an incident of rape or incest that has been duly reported to the authorities. The Constitutional Court, which made the ruling that ended the total ban on abortion, framed the decision in terms of women’s rights to health and life.
  • Most abortions in Colombia happen under circumstances that are not legal. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 44% of all unintended pregnancies in Colombia end in abortion– 400,400 per year. As of 2008, less than .1% of these abortions were reported as legal procedures.
  • An estimated one-third of all women that have a clandestine abortion develop complications that need treatment in a health facility, and the rate of complications is highest in poor rural women.
  • One out of every five women with abortion-related complications does not receive any treatment.



  • Prada E et al., Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Colombia: Causes and Consequences, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011.

Advocating for access to safe reproductive health care.