A major step forward in Chile

Monday, August 21, 2017

photo of Chilean flag

On Monday, August 21, Chile’s Constitutional Court voted in favor of lifting the total ban on abortion in the country. The measure legalizes abortion in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, when the fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

“Ipas applauds the Chilean government and the advocates who have worked tirelessly to make safe abortion a reality for Chilean women. This vote is a major step forward for Chile. Women have suffered and have been denied the ability to make their own reproductive health decisions since former dictator Pinochet instituted the ban in 1989,” says John Hetherington, Ipas president and CEO.

Ipas and other international partners have long supported the work of activists, including the Chilean reproductive rights organization, Miles, in efforts to liberalize the punitive abortion law. Chilean women found guilty of having an abortion had been subject to prison sentences.

“The court decision and the support from President Michelle Bachelet really signals a positive move to uphold human rights,” says Dr. Guillermo Ortiz, Ipas senior medical advisor and former provider in El Salvador, one of a handful of countries that has totally restricted abortion. “Across the Americas, I hope this creates a domino effect. I know what a total ban on abortion does—it doesn’t stop abortion but just makes it unsafe and puts women and girls at risk.”