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Colombia's Duque blasts 'heinous' pro-abortion ruling
Colombia's president on Tuesday described as "heinous" a Constitutional Court ruling decriminalizing abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, a move he said bypassed Congress and a deeply Catholic population.
Colombia on Monday became the fifth Latin American country to decriminalize elective abortion after Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana and some states of Mexico.
President Ivan Duque said the decision of five judges against four was one that "concerns the entire Colombian society."
"Five people (judges) cannot impose on the nation something as heinous as allowing life to be interrupted up to six months" of pregnancy, he told reporters.
"We are not talking about a life in gestation, but a life that is already viable," said the president.
Monday's court ruling established the latest cutoff date for abortion in Latin America.
Previously, it was up to 14 weeks in Argentina.
Until now, abortion was only possible in Colombia in cases of rape, if the health or the woman was in danger, or the fetus had a life-threatening abnormality.
Outside of these limits, anyone who opted for an abortion or performed one risked 16 to 54 months in jail.
Duque said the matter should be left to Congress to deliberate.
The legislature can theoretically overturn the court decision, though it will need a majority to do so, and has avoided debating the matter for years.
Hundreds of people celebrated Monday's court ruling, while others gathered to protest in prayer.
According to information gathered by lobby group Causa Justa, about 5,500 investigations into illegal abortions since 1998 have resulted in about 250 women being arrested.
There are 24 women in prison in Colombia today for having had an abortion, according to the prison authority.
The Catholic church and other religious groups have repeatedly pushed back against decriminalizing abortion.