Chile considering new bill to end complete abortion ban
Chile considering new bill to end complete abortion ban

[JURIST] Chilean lawmakers are considering a bill introduced on Tuesday to legalize abortions under certain circumstances. Rights groups believe the bill, which allows women to receive an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk, the fetus will not survive pregnancy or in cases of sexual assault, has a very good chance of success. President Michelle Bachelet [Forbes profile] sent the proposed bill to Congress [JURIST report] in February. Chile, a conservative and predominately Roman Catholic country, initiated its complete ban on abortion in 1990 under dictator Augusto Pinochet [WP report]. The ban, which imposes a punishment of up to five years in prison, has been challenged a few times since its inception with little success. The Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] reports [press release] that close to 400,000 women sought post-abortion care in Chilean public hospitals from 2001-2012.

Abortion [JURIST news archive] continues to be a hotly debated topic in the US and around the world. In January a group of UN human right experts urged [JURIST report] El Salvador to pardon all women jailed for illegal abortions as a result of pregnancy complications or rape. Also in January the US House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would ban abortions supported by federal funding. In December the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed [JURIST report] a lower court decision that the Woman’s Right to Know Act, which requires physicians to display and describe ultrasound images to women seeking abortions, is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Also in December the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission announced [JURIST report] that it plans to file a lawsuit challenging the country’s law against abortions.