by Steven Ertelt
November 22, 2006
Santiago, Chile (LifeNews.com) — The lower house of the national Congress in Chile rejected a measure that would have legalized abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Tuesday vote came on a measure presented by deputy lawmakers of the ruling party, which did not endorse the legislation.
The measure would have allowed abortions in cases of rape or incest of the mother’s life is at risk from the pregnancy. Chile is one of more than 30 nations that prohibits abortions in all cases.
Congress leader Antonio Leal called the bill unconstitutional because it went against the nation’s constitution, which enshrines protection for the right to life of unborn children. He said the Congress could only debate the bill after an amendment to change the constitution "because our constitution guarantees the right to life."
Leal’s opinion on the bill prevailed and members of Congress voted 61-21 against having a debate on the legislation.
Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for the National Right to Life Committee praised the vote.
"This pro-life victory is yet another example of how Latin Americans will not succumb to the well funded efforts of international pro-abortion groups and relinquish their right to protect unborn children," he told LifeNews.com. "The slick campaigns with distorted truths held no sway over the Chilean people."
Rojas said that media accounts of the vote highlighted polls conducted by pro-abrotion groups claim most citizens in Chile back abortion.
"Where have we heard that before? It may be time for them to get a new mantra," he told LifeNews.com.
Marco Enriquez-Ominami and Rene Alico, both members of the center-left ruling coalition of political parties headed by President Michelle Bachelet, sponsored the bill, though the ruling government opposed it.
Christian Democrat lawmakers strongly opposed the measure and vowed to leave the coalition of parties and support the minority if it passed.
According to a Santiago Times report, the vote was the first after center and conservative lawmakers formed a pro-life coalition from two of the four parties in Chile’s governing coalition and the two conservative parties.
Legislators from the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) and National Revolution (RN) parties teamed up with lawmakers from the Christian Democratic Party (DC) and Radical Socialist Democratic Party (PRSD).
Members of the Socialist Party (PS) and Democratic Party (PPD) put forward the pro-abortion bill.
Anyone who does an abortion in Chile could receive up to 3-5 years in prison as a result of doing an illegal abortion. Abortions to save the mother’s life were previously but banned in the late 1980s.
Abortion advocates claim as many as 132,000 illegal abortions are done ever year in the South American nation.
Earlier this month, a Chile appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the government there to distribute the morning after pill to minor teenagers without their parent’s knowledge or consent.
The nation’s Health Ministry instituted the plan in September and it produced strong dissent from the Catholic church and local officials.