A Chilean court has ruled that private healthcare facilities may conscientiously object to abortions, declaring unconstitutional a law that had gone into effect in October.

By a vote of 8-2, the nation’s Constitutional Court struck down a portion of the Regulation on Conscientious Objection of the Law on Abortion. The court accepted a Dec. 6 appeal filed by senators of the Chile Vamos coalition which sought to annul part of the Department of Health regulation.

The paragraph in question said that private institutions that maintained contracts with the state could invoke conscientious objection as long as “they do not involve obstetric and gynecological services which, by their nature, include hospital services.”

Facilities that did not have state contracts were permitted under the regulation to conscientiously object to abortion, but were required to refer patients to another health facility that would perform the abortion. Individual doctors were allowed to opt-out of participating in abortions unless a woman required immediate medical attention that could not be postponed.

With the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court, private clinics may now refuse to do abortions while maintaining state contracts.

The Department of Health announced that it “will comply with the ruling” and will adopt all necessary measures to implement it.

The law that legalized abortion in certain cases – rape, fetal “non-viability” and when doctors deem the pregnancy to pose a risk to the life of the mother – was signed into law Sept. 14, 2017 by President Michelle Bachelet, as one of the signature initiatives of her second term.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.