(PRESS RELEASE) President Michelle Bachelet of Chile introduced a bill Saturday that would allow women access to safe and legal abortion services in cases of sexual violence, fetal impairments and life-endangerment.
If passed, this bill would make Chile the 37th country to decriminalize abortion in certain circumstances in the last 20 years and put an end to the country’s absolute ban on abortion and the harsh penalties associated with it. Upon her election in May 2014, President Bachelet promised to prioritize the decriminalization of abortion for the women of Chile.
Dijo Nancy Northup, presidenta y directora general del Centro de Derechos Reproductivos:
“With this legislation, Chile has an historic opportunity to lead the way toward more fully empowering women, protecting women’s health and safety, and fulfilling women’s fundamental human rights throughout Latin America.
“Extreme abortion bans like Chile’s have forced countless women into the shadows when they need to end a pregnancy, risking imprisonment and even their lives.
“While there is much more to do to eliminate the harsh restrictions that have criminalized women’s health care in Chile for too long, this is a bold and important first step.
“We commend President Bachelet for making women’s reproductive rights a legislative priority, and we call on Congress to act quickly to pass this bill.”
The recently introduced bill would only allow women to access an abortion legally within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of sexual assault, in cases of severe fetal impairments and life-endangerment. . While the legislation is an historic and important step to decriminalize abortion in Chile, the proposed law would require authorization from two medical professionals and does not explicitly allow for a health exception.
“While this proposed legislation is a positive step toward guaranteeing women’s rights, it falls short in protecting pregnant women’s rights to health and dignity,” dijo Mónica Arango, directora regional para América Latina y el Caribe del Centro de Derechos Reproductivos.
Chile’s 1931 health code legalized abortion in limited circumstances, but this reproductive health service was later banned in all circumstances in September 1989. From 2001-2012 close to 400,000 women sought post-abortion care in Chilean public hospitals.
Según un informe de 2014 publicado por el Centro, 35 países han enmendado sus leyes para ampliar el acceso a los servicios de aborto seguro y legal en los últimos 20 años, una tendencia que ha marcado un increíble progreso hacia la mejora de los derechos y la vida de las mujeres, incluida la reducción significativa de las tasas de mortalidad materna debido al aborto inseguro. El informe se publicó junto con el informe actualizado del Centro Leyes de aborto en el mundo mapa-uno de los recursos más completos sobre las leyes de aborto en todo el mundo.