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Chile legalises abortion                             

22 August 2017


​Abortion activists in Chile. MARTIN BERNETTI /AFP/Getty

Chile - one of the few countries in the world which banned abortion completely - has now legalised it in some circumstances.

The country's Constitutional Court judged by 6-4 that a bill that had already passed through Congress was constitutional. It allows for abortion in cases of rape, danger to the mother's life and foetal disability. 

Pushed by the President

Chile's president Michele Bachelet, a former executive director of the United Nations office of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, introduced the legislation and has promised to sign it. "The women of Chile have won back the basic right to decide for ourselves in extreme cases, particularly cases that can be very painful," Bachelet said in celebration of the ruling. "Today it is women who are the winners. I believe that today democracy once again has won, and Chile has won."

Chile restricted abortion to exceptional cases for decades and outlawed abortion completely in 1989 under Augusto Pinochet.

Amnesty rejoices

Organisations such as Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International celebrated yesterday's decision. "Chile has finally moved one step closer to protecting the human rights of women and girls," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  "...The real test now is to ensure the law is actually enforced, that women and girls are fully able to access the comprehensive health services they need and that this reform opens the door for them to be able to fully enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights."

Contradicting the Constitution

Americans United for Life senior counsel Clarke Forsythe told Breitbart that: "The Chilean Constitution explicitly states that 'the constitution secures everyone’s right to life and to physical and psychical integrity. The law protects the life of the unborn."

He also observed that, according to a 50-year study, Chile’s maternal mortality rate has decreased since the institution of its abortion ban in 1989.  "As of 2012, Chile had the lowest maternal mortality ratio in Latin America," he notes, adding:  "If there is a silver lining, it is the Court’s close vote today, 6-4, and that the Court merely allowed a legalization bill to go into effect. Unlike the US Supreme Court’s decision Roe v. Wade, the Constitutional Tribunal did not create a constitutional right that would be immune from legislative correction. The Chile Chamber of Deputies and the Senate can repeal this legalization bill once they realize its negative impact on women, their children and the broader society."

News in brief:

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