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Chile to End Blanket Ban on Abortions

LADB Article ID: 80410
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2017-09-15
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

After a years-long debate in Congress and a make-it-or-break-it ruling last month by the Tribunal Constitucional (Constitutional Court, TC), Chile is finally set to scale back its zero-exceptions ban on abortion. The TC decision, reached Aug. 21 by a vote of six to four, clears the way for abortions to be allowed in three specific circumstances: when a pregnancy puts the mother’s life is at risk, involves a non-viable fetus, or is the result of rape or incest. The judgment also, however, gives medical practitioners the option to conscientiously object to the practice and thus exempt themselves from having to administer abortions. The landmark ruling came nearly three weeks after the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, gave final legislative approval to the initiative, which President Michelle Bachelet submitted more than two years ago in the form of a bill. The legislation cleared the Senate in July, with 18 votes in favor and 16 against. After hearing testimony from 130 experts and advocates from both sides in the debate, six of the TC’s justices—including Brahm—ruled in favor of the contentious bill, pulling the plug once and for all on an abortion policy that dated back to 1989, when it was pushed through in the waning days of the Gen. Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

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