Upper house

Chile moves towards decriminalization of elective abortion

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Santiago (AFP)

Chile’s lower house of Congress on Tuesday approved a bill to decriminalize abortion within 14 weeks of pregnancy, a major step towards legalizing a procedure still permitted in a handful of Latin American countries.

The proposal has yet to be approved by Chile’s ultra-conservative upper house or Senate.

Tuesday – International Safe Abortion Day – lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies gave the green light with 75 votes in favor, 68 against and two abstentions, according to the parliamentarian’s Twitter account.

The bill, introduced in 2018 by opposition MPs, aims to amend the existing law which only allows elective abortion in three scenarios: when there is a threat to the life of the pregnant woman, if the fetus is not viable, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.

These legal abortions represent only about three percent of the thousands of clandestine abortions that take place in the country, according to activists.

Until 2017, Chile maintained an outright ban on the procedure, still denied to most women in Latin America.

“This is for all the women … who have been persecuted and criminalized,” tweeted Communist MP Camila Vallejo, one of the authors of the bill.

“Down with the patriarchy which will fall, will fall!” she added. “Instead feminism, who will win, will win!”

Among other Latin American countries, abortion is legal only in Uruguay, Cuba, Argentina – since January – and Guyana, as well as Mexico City and three Mexican states.

It is banned in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, and most other countries only allow it for medical reasons or in cases of rape.

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