Chile’s lower house of Congress has given the green sign of lifting the ban on abortion in cases of pregnancy where mothers and babies are at risks. Legalising abortion will allow women to terminate their pregnancy in cases of rape or when the foetus is declared to be inflicted with a serious ailment.
The proposal was submitted by the government of President Michelle Bachelet. However, Senate is yet to approve it as a law.
“This is a historic day. We see the political will to let women make their own decisions,” said lawmaker Karol Cariola of the Communist Party.
Also, Marco Antonio Nunez, the head of the Chamber of Deputies, called it an “incredible” decision for the welfare of women.
According to opinion polls, 70 percent of the Chileans supported the change. The proposal was majorly approved by 66 to 44 votes. Several members of conservative Christian Democrats supported the bill which was evaluated 14 months ago.
In 2013, Bachelet promised to ameliorate the bill, in case elected for a second term. On 31 January 2015, she announced to send a proposal to the Congress. It was discussed in the Chamber of Deputies’s Health and Constitution Commissions until April 2015.
Even with the bill approved as law, Chile will still remain as one of the seven South American countries where abortion is illegal. The other six countries include Haiti, Nicaragua, Suriname, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.
As of now, Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay authorise abortions in cases of rape and incest, a risk to a woman’s health.
In 2012, Uruguay narrowly voted to authorise abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Mexico city also followed the same rule.
BBC reports that abortion in Chile was legal until 1989. However, General Augusto Pinochet imposed the ban on abortion under his military government, which ended in 1990.
However, religious pressure from Roman Catholic Church and other conservative groups caused a big gap of more than 25 years to bring the changes.
Every year,160,000 abortions are carried out in Chile under serious conditions, according to a report filed by DW.