“Pro-Lifers” in Chile Again Seek to Increase the Abortion Rate

By limiting access to emergency contraception. And they’ve got the Constitutional court on their side this time. Women’s eNews has more background; Radio Cooperativa broke the story; and there’s a Spanish-language article here.

I’m a little confused about the details of all of this. English-language reports are saying that the decision was only about free emergency contraception, but some Spanish-language sources (and the person who sent me the link) say that the ban is on medicines that contain Levonorgestrel, which is in a lot of birth control pills — effectively illegalizing the birth control method of choice used by about a third of Chilean women — as well as on Postinor-2, an emergency contraceptive.

Abortion is also illegal in Chile under all circumstances — even to save the pregnant woman’s life.

Pro-choice activists in Chile made significant strides in the 1960s, because so many Chilean women were dying of illegal abortions. They introduced family planning tools, which were widely accepted in the mid-60s — and deaths from illegal abortion declined from 118 to 24 per 100,000 live births between 1964 and 1979. But even with that victory, abortion complications still account for about 40 percent of all maternal deaths.

Chile has a feminist-minded president and a thriving reproductive health activist base. But this is a huge step back, and a major disservice to Chilean women.

Thanks to Catrala for the link.

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2 comments for ““Pro-Lifers” in Chile Again Seek to Increase the Abortion Rate

  1. ACM
    April 10, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    The power trip behind this just drives me batty. “If I say don’t do it you’ll just stop” Too bad that doesn’t work in reality. Why don’t they get that saying “no more abortions, no more birth control” isn’t going to just make women shrug their shoulders and go back to washing the dishes and popping out kids every 9 months as if nothing ever happened. So infuriating!

  2. Poetry
    April 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I am a woman of Chilean descent living in the United States with most of my family living in the homeland. I fear for my 16-year-old cousin who has a boyfriend and is or will soon be sexually active. Contraception and abortion aren’t the only issues of women’s justice in Chile. Divorce wasn’t legalized until a couple of years ago, and the process to get a divorce is still convoluted and draconian. There is still no such thing as no-fault divorce, and a one-year waiting period is required before the divorce can be carried out (just in case you change your mind, according to policy) which is keeping my 30-year-old cousin stuck in a marriage with a drunken, irresponsible husband for yet another year.

    It’s incredible that one of the most prosperous and least corrupt countries in South America, with a presidenta no less, has some of the most restrictive policies on the continent. Chile was the last country in South America to legalize divorce. 90% of the country is Roman Catholic.

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