Catholic Bishops of Chile Oppose Weakening Abortion Ban

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2011   |   6:23PM   |   Washington, DC

The Catholic bishops in Chile have issued a new statement opposing any effort to weaken the pro-life laws that protect women and unborn children.

The South American nation protects unborn children before birth from any abortions but a bill pending in the nation’s legislature would legalize abortions in some cases.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the bishops released a statement on December 28 through the Bishops’ Conference of Chile saying there is never a justification for an abortion and that it is never medically necessary for women.

“Situations like these, while rare, are a source of anguish, uncertainty and sorrow that must not be met with indifference,” they said concerning the bill that would allow abortions in the cases of rape, incest, saving the life of the mother or in very rare cases of developmental problems for the baby that threaten his or her life.

“Neither the life of the mother nor that of the child can be the object of a direct act of elimination. There is only one option for both one and the other: every effort must be made to save both lives, that of the mother and that of the child,” the bishops said, according to CNA.

They added:  “This does not signify opposition, however, to licit therapeutic actions to cure the mother of some illness, even if that implies a certain risk—even lethal—to the unborn child.  A therapeutic action that benefits the mother and that unintentionally puts the life of the unborn in danger should not be confused with the direct elimination of the unborn child.”

“This is the first of all human rights without which no others exist,” they said about the right to life.

Abortion advocates have placed significant pressure on Chile and other nations in the region to legalize at least some abortions, though many nations, given their Catholic heritage, protect women and unborn children.

At the United Nations in 2008, former 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.”

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.

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.

Bachelet ender her term in March and has been replaced by Sebastian Pinera.