Conscientious Objection to Abortion Provision in Bogotá, Colombia: Religion, Respect, and Referral

Lauren Fink, Emory University
Kaitlyn Stanhope, Emory University
Chelsey Brack, Emory University
Kalie Richardson, Emory University
Oscar Bernal, Universidad de Los Andes

After the Colombian Constitutional Court partially decriminalized abortion in 2006, conscientious objection to abortion provision remains a topic of debate. Using a Grounded Theory approach, this study qualitatively examines the issue of conscientious objection from a human rights perspective, exploring the ethical, religious, and legal influences surrounding referral for abortion and the provider-patient relationship. Participants were recruited with snowball sampling and purposively selected for a broad representation of self-identified conscientious objectors in Bogotá. Although religion was a common theme, objectors also discussed medical ethics and their belief that abortion is harmful to women’s mental health. Some providers expressed judgment towards women who seek abortions and hesitancy to refer, while others viewed referral as a way to save “one out of two” lives. The results of this study will help identify routes for intervention to increase provider referral and decrease stigma against women seeking abortions.

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 Presented in Session P9. Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, and Reproductive Health