Chile Senate Passes Bill Taking First Step in Legalizing Abortion

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 19, 2017   |   5:08PM   |   Santiago, Chile

Many South American countries are facing strong pressure from abortion activists because of their pro-life laws.

On Wednesday, Chilean Senate lawmakers caved into pro-abortion lobbyists’ pressure and passed a bill to allow abortions in certain circumstances, according to The Guardian.

The bill would allow unborn babies to be aborted in cases of rape, fatal fetal anomalies and dangers to the mother’s life. Currently, abortions are illegal in Chile, meaning that unborn babies are protected in all circumstances.

Pro-abortion President Michelle Bachelet supports the bill.

“It’s a historic morning,” Bachelet said after the bill passed. “The Senate approved de-penalizing abortion in three cases, which means we can be a country where women can make the best decision possible when faced with such situations.”

The bill narrowly passed the Senate after a long debate stretching through the night, the AP reports. It now moves to Chile’s lower house where many predict it will pass.

Pro-life Sen. Jacqueline van Rysselberghe mourned the vote and promised to work to protect unborn lives in the courts if the bill becomes law.

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“It has been a sad day for Chile,” van Rysselberghe said. “We are going to take it to the constitutional tribunal (to try to block it).”

According to the BBC, the votes broke down this way:

  • The vote in favour of allowing abortion in cases in which the mother’s life is at risk was 20 in favour and 14 opposed
  • That of allowing a termination in cases where the foetus is unviable was 18 to 14
  • The closest result was for the vote on whether to allow abortions in cases of rape. Eighteen senators voted in favour and 16 against

The pro-life country has been facing pressure from abortion activists for years. Earlier this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing about promoting pro-abortion legislation in Chile.

The hearing was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the request of US-based Center for Reproductive Rights and Chilean NGOs Miles Chile and the Isabel Allende Foundation,” wrote Marie Smith, the director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues. “Despite having the lowest rate of maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean, pressure has been increasing for legislators to add legal exceptions to the law. The IACHR heard testimony in favor of abandoning pro-life protections and a request that the IACHR contact the Chilean Congress in support of the legislation.”