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CEDAW in Action: Colombia

On January 21, 2013, MADRE called on President Obama to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Throughout this week, we will be calling attention to instances in which CEDAW has made a concrete difference in the lives of women around the world.

On May 10, 2006, Colombia ended it’s previously total ban on abortion. Under the new law, abortion is permitted in cases of rape and incest, if the mother’s life is at risk, and if the fetus is no longer viable. Being allowed to abort in instances where the fetus cannot or has not survived is essential to women’s health and futures. The decision brought Colombia’s law in line with most of South America, where access to abortion is often difficult to come by but is largely legal when the mother’s health is at risk.

The case that changed the law was brought forward on the strength of Colombia’s ratification of CEDAW. CEDAW guarantees a number of other reproductive health freedoms and allows women to pursue their rights with the weight of international human rights advances.