Year: 2011 (Date of Decision: 3 November, 2011)
Forum, Country: Constitutional Court; Colombia
Standards, Rights: Non-discrimination and equal protection of the law; Right to health; Children; Women
Summary Background: An injunction was filed in this case to safeguard a juvenile’s human right to health, in particular, her mental health. The girl’s doctor had ascertained that her pregnancy posed a risk to her mental health, which qualifies as one of the circumstances under which a legal abortion can be performed in Colombia. However, a particular health administrator that was part of the Colombian social insurance system was said to have unreasonably created so many administrative obstacles that the girl was compelled to continue her pregnancy even thought this was detrimentalto her health.
Holding: The Court, citing applicable international human rights instruments including the ICESCR, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, strongly affirmed women’s rights to reproductive autonomy and access to health services without discrimination [para. 22], especially in cases where the reproductive rights of juveniles are at stake.
The Court emphasized that the health administrators operating as part of the social insurance system have an obligation to provide adequate and timely access to health services including abortion [paras. 17. III and 35]. In this case, the administrator ignored this obligation and posed a grave risk to the child’s health, on the basis of a mere technicality [para. 21].
The Court ordered the health administrator in question to pay appropriate compensation and prohibited the imposition of additional conditions that unreasonably delay access to abortion services in future cases, for example requiring a waiting period or requiring necessary certification from only an affiliated doctor.
Link to Full Case: http://www.corteconstitucional.gov.co/relatoria/2011/t-841-11.htm