Chile lawmakers gave into abortion activists’ persistent pressure on Thursday and passed a bill to legalize abortion in certain circumstances.
Chile’s lower house of Congress approved the bill to allow abortions in cases of rape, risk to the mother’s health and fatal fetal deformities; the vote was 66 to 44, according to the BBC. The bill moves to the Chile Senate for a vote. Currently, abortion is illegal in the South American nation.
Claudia Nogueira of the conservative Independent Democratic Union party lamented the move.
“This is a setback for protection of the unborn,” Nogueira said.
“We could say that the military government, or the dictatorship, whatever you want to call it, killed adults. You kill them before they are born,” added lawmaker Manuel Garcia. “What is the difference between these two crimes?”
However, members of the Chilean Communist Party applauded the pro-abortion bill.
“This is an historic day,” said communist lawmaker Karol Cariola. “We see the political will to let women make their own decisions.”
Pro-abortion groups who lobbied for the bill said it would help protect women from dangerous back-alley and self-induced abortions in the country, according to Vice News.
Abortion advocates have been increasingly targeting South American countries in the past few months because of an increased number of babies born with birth defects, possibly related to the Zika virus.
As the virus spreads, several South American countries have reported an alarming spike in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a neurological disorder where a baby’s head is significantly smaller and the brain is abnormally developed, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition is not typically fatal, but it can cause health problems throughout the baby’s life.
The link between the virus and microcephaly has not been confirmed, but health officials have been searching for evidence. Meanwhile, abortion activists have been exploiting the crisis, causing fears among pregnant women and calling for legalized abortion in South America, where abortion is widely prohibited.
While news reports about the Chile pro-abortion bill do not mention Zika, it seems likely that the legislation came about as a result of abortion activists’ renewed efforts.
The pro-abortion group Women on Waves also has been targeting Chilean women, as well as women in Colombia, Bolivia, Guadeloupe, Paraguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Surinam, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The group is advertising dangerous, mail-order abortion pills to the countries’ pregnant women who think they may be infected with the Zika virus.
Health officials in many South American countries are asking women to refrain from getting pregnant while they attempt to curb the spread of the virus. But abortion activists have their own solution: legalize abortion. LifeNews reported that abortion groups are targeting South American countries where abortion is largely illegal and using the health crisis to renew the push to legalize abortion.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and others are involved in working to curb the spread of the virus. No vaccine or cure has been developed yet.