Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled against legalising abortion on demand in the country. 

The court undertook a review of  the country’s abortion laws when a magistrate issued a formal proposal that abortion on demand in the first 16th week of pregnancy be made lawful.

On Monday, the court ruled against extending abortion provision, which had been limited in a 2006 ruling to cases of rape or incest, serious disabilities and a threat to a mother’s life or health. Pro-life groups had also opposed the 2006 ruling, arguing that medial interventions should not be conflated with abortion.

Abortion advocates expected the court to rule in favour of abortion provision, with the New York Times and other international media platforms writing that such a decision “could be a landmark in Latin America and have a ripple effect across a region known for its restrictive laws.”

However, the Constitutional Court’s magistrates rejected the arguments made by abortion supporters.

The plaintiff hasn’t submitted sufficient arguments to call into question a constitutional judgment,” they said in a 6-3 decision read aloud to the court.

A poll by Colombian magazine Semana found that almost 70% of respondents were opposed to abortion proposal. Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates protested at the court, with pro-lifers in blue bandanas chanting Yes, yes, yes, for life, while counter-protesters in green responded “Yes, yes, yes to abortion”.

After the ruling, Colombian President Iván Duque praised the decision.

“I’ve always said I’m pro-life,” he said. “I think that life starts at conception.”