Chile’s Congress Approves Abortion in Limited Cases
New York Times .- Lawmakers in Chile approved legislation permitting abortion under limited circumstances, a breakthrough for an important policy goal of President Michelle Bachelet.
The legislation, approved late Wednesday night, will go into effect if Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal gives it the green light in coming days.
The vote followed a contentious, yearslong debate in one of the few countries where abortion remains illegal in all cases. Abortion was allowed in Chile under some circumstances from 1931 until 1989, when the military junta abolished it.
“Today, women reclaimed a basic right that we never should have lost: being able to choose when we’re living through painful moments,” Ms. Bachelet wrote on Twitter.
Conservative factions in Chile’s Congress fought abortion legalization bills vigorously over the years, even as a growing number of Chileans came to see abortion as a fundamental right.
The new law authorizes terminating a pregnancy if it endangers the life of the mother; when the fetus is unviable; and when pregnancy resulted from rape.
Opposition lawmakers have argued the law would prompt false rape audiaaims and said medical professionals who objected to abortion on moral grounds should not be forced to perform the procedure. The law allows the objectors to refuse unless the mother’s life is in imminent danger and no other medical professionals are available.
A public opinion poll conducted by the research firm Cadem last month found that 70 percent of respondents supported legalizing abortion under the criteria described in the law. The poll included 705 respondents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Abortion-rights groups say 60,000 to 70,000 clandestine abortions are performed in Chile each year, often in unsafe conditions. The risks are not solely medical. Any participant in an abortion in Chile may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. From 2010 to 2014, nearly 500 people were charged in abortion cases, 86 percent of them women who had terminated pregnancies, according to Miles, a reproductive rights group.
Conservative lawmakers are hoping the Constitutional Tribunal, which has eight male and two female judges, will find that the law is at odds with a provision of Chile’s Constitution that protects the life of the unborn. The court could decide whether it wants to review the law as early as next week. If the court chooses not to, the law would automatically take effect. If it decides to review, the court must rule on the law’s legality before Aug. 28.
“The Tribunal has the opportunity to dignify Chilean women by restoring a right they had until 1989, respecting their autonomy to make decisions in situations as painful as these three scenarios,” said Claudia Dides, the director of Miles.
Fuente: New York Times