Chile President Bachelet Concerns Pro-Lifers With Pro-Abortion UN Speech

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 3, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Chile President Bachelet Concerns Pro-Lifers With Pro-Abortion UN Speech

by Piero A. Tozzi
October 3, 2008 Note: Piero Tozzi writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.

New York, NY ( — At the United Nations (UN) last week, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet touted support for a Latin American and Caribbean region initiative to “provide better and increased access to reproductive health services.”

Though the regional initiative purportedly aims to reduce maternal and child mortality, in UN parlance, “reproductive health services” is practically synonymous with abortion.

Bachelet’s country is one of the most protective nations toward the unborn child with an explicit constitutional "right to life," which makes her remarks all the more disconcerting for Chilean pro-lifers.

Bachelet gave her remarks at a special side event co-sponsored and attended by the heads of state of Finland and Tanzania during the UN High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals that was meant to highlight the health needs of “Mothers, Newborns and Children.”

Though the UN has never agreed that the stand-alone term “reproductive health” includes abortion, when the phrase is combined with the word “services,” it is used by pro-abortion advocacy groups to encompass abortion. For this reason the Holy See and the United States under the current administration have fought to keep the phrase “reproductive health services” (or “sexual and reproductive health services”) out of negotiated UN documents.

When running for President in 2005, candidate Bachelet assured voters that she would not seek to overturn the country’s laws outlawing abortion, stating that terminating an unwanted pregnancy was a “bad solution.” She has not overtly supported legislation proposed by fellow socialist parliamentarians which called for legalizing "therapeutic" abortion.

Critics note, however, that President Bachelet has pushed for access to the “morning after pill” both as Health Minister in the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos and as President, pressing pharmacies to stock “emergency contraception” and signing a decree that authorized the free distribution of the pill to teenagers above age 14.

In a limited ruling, the Chilean Supreme Court reversed the President’s decree this past April. The pill is alleged to function as an abortifacient in instances where a fertilized egg is expelled from the uterus.

None of the speakers at the event attended by President Bachelet ever explicitly mentioned the word “abortion,” though several other speakers referred to “sexual and reproductive health services” in their remarks, including the President of Finland and the Minister of Development Cooperation of the Netherlands.

Chilean pro-lifers reject the notion that Bachelet may not be attuned to the linguistic nuances of such phrases.

Pointing to Bachelet’s support of the abortifacient “morning after pill,” a representative of the Chilean pro-life group “Red por la Vida y la Familia” told the Friday Fax that she believes the President to be personally pro-abortion, though she mutes her sympathies for political expediency. Bachelet, she added, “knows perfectly” what the phrase “reproductive health services” means, and her President’s promotion of the regional initiative amounts to a backdoor attempt to bring abortion to Chile.

Bachelet’s Socialist Party is in a coalition with the centrist Christian Democrats, whose members are generally pro-life, with a significant number breaking with Bachelet on her promotion of the “morning after pill.” Chile’s next election for President will occur in December 2009.

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