Decision T-841

Writ of injunction (tutela) aimed at the protection of women's reproductive and health rights as well as children's rights to health, dignity, personal integrity and free development of their personality; Undue delay in providing for an abortion permitted by the law; Recognition of women's right to privacy and anonymity as well as reaffirmation of women's right to abortion as a reproductive right (both in terms of autonomy and access to health services).

Date of the Ruling: 
Nov 3 2011
Constitutional Court
Type of Forum: 

The plaintiff filed an injunction aimed at guaranteeing the right of a 12 year-old girl to her mental health, among other rights. The girl became pregnant in early 2011 and started presenting symptoms of anxiety and depression, as diagnosed by different physicians, who recommended the interruption of her pregnancy. Although interruption of pregnancy in cases of risk to the health of the mother is one of the three circumstances in which abortion is guaranteed as a right by the Constitutional Court, the judicial process was unnecessarily delayed, leading the girl to continue her pregnancy.

In its decision in this case, the Constitutional Court of Colombia affirmed women's rights to reproductive autonomy and access to health services without discrimination (article 12, CEDAW and article 12, ICESCR), especially in cases where girls' reproductive rights are involved (article 24, Convention on the Rights of the Child). The Court underlined that the social insurance system should not be an obstacle to the exercise of such rights. There should have been adequate and timely access to health services including abortion. The Court demanded the Empresa Promotora de Salud BB, the company which is part of the Colombian social insurance system, to pay compensation for expenses incurred with the birth of the child and the girl's mental and physical health treatment as well as for the impact of pregnancy throughout the girl's life cycle. It also forbid the EPS from imposing additional conditions for interrupting pregnancy in future cases, such as imposing a waiting period or requiring a certification from a doctor affiliated with the Empresa Promotora de Salud BB. In addition, the identity of the woman who is requesting the abortion should be protected. Finally, the Court ordered the dissemination of its decision to different governmental institutions involved in the process of interruption of pregnancy.

Keywords: Decision T-841, Children, Gender, Health, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

Although the harm the injunction aimed at avoiding had already taken place, the Constitutional Court decided to give its opinion with regard to the relevant rights' violations in order to prevent future violations (T-209/2008 and T-946-2008). The Court also established a timeline for the implementation of each of its resolutions in order to promote enforcement. Actual outcomes are still to be assessed. Last updated: May 2012

Groups involved in the case: 

La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres

Significance of the Case: 

According to the NGO that supported the case, La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres, "the Constitutional Court's ruling is an advancement in the recognition of reproductive and sexual rights of Colombian women, because it ratifies access to voluntary termination of pregnancy as a fundamental right, from which certain obligations can be derived for the State and health entities. It [also] demonstrates that to ask for any additional requirements or procedures to impede or extend the time for providing the service constitutes a serious violation of human rights." DeJusticia believes that this case demonstrates the Court's commitment to making sure the right to an abortion in legal cases is realized in fact, not only in court.