Legislators in Chile's lower house of Congress on Thursday passed a bill decriminalizing abortion in limited circumstances. The bill now passes to the Senate, where analysts believe it may also pass.
The March 17 vote in the Chamber of Deputies approved the bill by 66-44. It seeks to legalize abortion in three cases: risk to the life of the mother, non-viability of the fetus, and rape. It also limits abortion to no more than 12 weeks, though it is extended to 14 weeks in mothers under the age of 14.
Conscientious objection for doctors on an individual basis was also passed, and health centers that allow abortions to be performed would be prohibited from advertising.
The legislators also approved the possibility of obliging the director of a hospital to make sure that an abortion be performed on any woman over 18 who asked for it following a rape, even if she did not report the rape to police.
“This bill is unconstitutional because it violates the right to life,” said Ernesto Silva of the Independent Democratic Union Party (UDI), who voted against the bill.
Abortion is currently illegal in Chile under all circumstances. The bill seeking to decriminalize the procedure was introduced by the government of president Michelle Bachelet, of the Socialist Party (PS).
“If the state now reneges on its duty to defend life, it won't be able to defend it in its development or in its end,” said Nicolás Monckeber of the National Renewal Party (RN).
Jaime Bellolio (UDI) opposed the abortion bill and said that “this debate is of an anthropological nature and is about human dignity; it's from there that our commitments to health and public policy emanate.”
“I prefer to be politically incorrect and do what's right … What is just and good doesn't depend on the majority,” he added.
Representative Germán Verdugo (RN) said in turn that “they're sowing the seeds of injustice and violence. That's why I will vote against this bill.”
Sergio Gahona (UDI) voted against the bill and stated that “I'm going to oppose this bill in its entirety. I would rather lose elections but I will never lose my convictions.”
Renzo Trisotti (UDI) likewise said, “You're not going to get me to give legal authorization to kill thousands of defenseless persons.”