The Constitutional Court of Bolivia has upheld the country’s laws protecting unborn children despite international pressure from UN experts.
Bolivia’s highest court handed down a surprise ruling in a challenge to its criminal prohibition on abortion from advocacy group IPAS. The court held that unborn life must be protected, though it expanded a rape exception, and opened the door to embryo destructive research and the morning after pill.
The case has been highly publicized in Bolivia, and was pending in the courts for two years. President Evo Morales reportedly weighed into the debate last year saying that “any abortion is a crime.”
The court’s arguments for protecting life are original. It asserted ancient indigenous cosmic beliefs that life is in constant perpetuity, without beginning or end; therefore everything that is life or “could potentially generate life” is protected by the Bolivian constitution. Abortion-on-demand should never be permitted and abortion is a crime during the later stages of pregnancy.
Of note to abortion groups will be how the court disregarded the recommendations of two UN committees that asked Bolivia to de-criminalize abortion last year.
Proponents of an international right to abortion want domestic courts to strike down national laws based on the recommendations of UN human rights monitoring committees in order to claim there is an international customary norm on abortion. So far they have not had the success they seek.