How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America

How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America
From Uruguay to Chile, medical staff are refusing to provide abortion services even after their legalisation.

Diana Cariboni
18 July 2018

Women’s rights to legal abortion have increased in Latin America – but so have campaigns and policies for medical staff to be able to ‘conscientiously object’ and refuse to participate in these procedures.

“We didn’t see it coming,” said feminist activist Lilián Abracinskas in Uruguay, a secular country where abortion, same-sex marriage and the marijuana market were each legalised in the last decade.


Chile – Abortion on three grounds: lack of preparedness and ineffectiveness of the State in the handling of women’s rights

Chile – Abortion on three grounds: lack of preparedness and ineffectiveness of the State in the handling of women's rights

July 21, 2017, International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

As we reported in Campaign news on Wednesday, 18 July, repeated in our newsletter earlier today, on Tuesday night the last Committee in the Chilean congress passed the abortion bill with all three grounds for abortion intact. On Wednesday, it was passed in the Senate. Then, yesterday, Thursday 20 July, it went back to the full Chamber of Deputies, which had passed it a year ago. It was also expected to pass there. However, when the vote finally came last night, the bill fell by one vote because one member of the ruling coalition, which supports the bill, unexpectedly abstained, and several others were absent.

In response, Miles Chile and thousands of supporters of the bill gathered in the Plaza Italia, on the steps of the congress building, to protest. In a news report published today, 21 June, Miles Chile held the legislative and executive powers responsible and described the fiasco as an "embarrassing blunder that exposes the ineffectiveness of the political class".

Claudia Dides, Director of Miles Chile, said: "Everyone knows that some deputies and senators will always be absent for any vote, but this could and should have been taken into account by the ruling coalition and this outcome prevented. It is well known, they said, that when it comes to dealing with a draft law, its passage should never be taken for granted until it actually becomes law. This negligence on the part of the government is insulting to the human rights of women."

She added: "The opposition, who steadily torpedoed this draft law, were violating basic human rights and even plan an appeal to the Constitutional Court against the bill if it becomes law, for it to be declared unconstitutional. This persistent rejection by sectors of the population who obey only their own religious beliefs, instead of supporting a secular State, will go down in history in the same way as those who denied women the right to vote."

The protest was "against a National Congress that denies the most basic human rights of women and against an Executive that, in spite of knowing full well the difficulties and obstacles over many years in all the attempts to pass this into law, were just not up to the job at the final moment".

It is not over yet, however. Claudia Dides concluded by announcing: "We will be watching what happens next very closely, as the legislature negotiates a conclusion regarding this bill, and in particular we will be watching what happens in the Constitutional Court, because we do not rule out appealing to that Court ourselves."

SOURCE: Miles Chile, translated from the Spanish, 21 July 2017 (

Chile: The Senate has agreed two days to debate and vote on the abortion law reform bill

The Senate has agreed two days to debate and vote on the abortion law reform bill
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
July 18, 2017

The Chilean Senate in committee is moving again on the abortion bill. This bill has gone further in the legislative process than any previous one since democracy was reinstituted in Chile. The current Committee set the dates of 17 July from 3pm to 9pm and 18 July from 3pm until the debate closes with a vote, to discuss the bill yet again and finalise its clauses. First, on 17 July, reports on the discussions in the previous months in the Commissions on Health, Constitution and Finance were tabled by their chairs.

Some Senators are talking about trying to bring back clauses that were rejected in these previous rounds of debate – some want to bring back in more liberal clauses, others more restrictive ones. One point of continuing contention is how many staff in an abortion clinic can claim conscientious objection. One senator stated he was going to vote against rape as a legal ground.

Observers on both sides of the question were in the balcony watching the proceedings, which are ongoing as we write this. When this session finalises the clauses in the bill, it will be reviewed by the entire Senate.

Claudia Dides, Director of Corporación Miles said: “We are very pleased to have reached this stage, in spite of the years of delay on the part of the most conservative sectors. There are some things we don’t like, but this is certainly positive news and we hope that on 18 July they will approve the three grounds of the bill , including the ground of rape”.

It is now two and a half years since the bill was first tabled by President Michelle Bachelet in January 2015.

SOURCE: Miles Chile, 13 July 2017 ; VISUAL ; Look for breaking news on 18 July on @Safe_Abortion and safeabortionwomensright


‘There will be more deaths’: NGOs on Trump’s anti-abortion rule

'There will be more deaths': NGOs on Trump's anti-abortion rule

We asked NGOs how the reinstatement of the ‘global gag’ rule will impact what they do, and the people they work with. Here are some of the responses.

Katherine Purvis and Guardian readers

Thursday 9 February 2017

Three days after his inauguration, Donald Trump reinstated the “global gag” rule, which prohibits the use of US aid money for abortions, prevents NGOs from using private funds for abortion services, from referring women to groups that provide abortions, and even from offering information on services.

We asked NGOs around the world to tell us how the policy impacted them in the past, and what it means for their work today.
Continued at source: The Guardian:

Chilean Constitutional Commission agrees to send the abortion bill to the full Senate

Chilean Constitutional Commission agrees to send the abortion bill to the full Senate!!!
by Safe Abortion, Jan 17, 2017


– Please sign the petition in support of the bill at:

Por favor, firmen la petición en apoyo del proyecto de ley a:

Following a vote today, 17 January, in the Constitutional Commission of the Chilean Senate, the fantastic news is: the abortion bill was approved by the Commission by a vote of three in favour and 2 against. It can now be taken to the floor of the full Senate.

In a last-minute effort in the week before the vote, Chilean human rights NGO Corporación Miles launched four videos. The videos contain raw accounts by women of their experiences of pregnancies with severe and fatal fetal anomalies. They have been disseminated through social networks one at a time, each time to thousands of people – last Wednesday and Thursday 11-12 January, Sunday 15 January and Monday 16 January, with a clear appeal to the Senators to vote for the decriminalisation of abortion on three grounds.

In the first video, Natalia Ahumada, aged 35 from Valparaiso, describes how her daughter was found to have skeletal dysplasia and died in the womb at 33 weeks of pregnancy. She says: “In the public hospital, I was told that my daughter had genetic mutations. I was treated for anxiety and depression. You can’t forget that you are a woman with a non-viable pregnancy who is suffering. I was hospitalized alongside post-partum women with healthy newborns, who I had to share a room with until the delivery, knowing that my daughter was dead.” As if that were not enough, she says: “Because of the lack of information while I was in hospital, I had to wait another week to bury her.”

On the evening of 12 January, the testimony is from Rosita Fuica (23) from Los Angeles, who talks about her experience in a hospital that denounced her to the police for having suffered a miscarriage at home.

On 15 January, a video was circulated with the story of Andrea Quiroga (aged 40) in Santiago, who suffered a pregnancy with a fetus incompatible with life. And on 16 January, Paola Valenzuela (aged 42), talks about the drama of learning her pregnancy was affected by amniotic band syndrome when she was 36 weeks pregnant, and that the child in her womb was being mutilated as it developed because of a fatal problem with all its organs, which meant it would die.

“These are real stories, touching, daunting, about damage to the dignity of women in the extreme. We appreciate the courage of Natalia, Rosita, Andrea and Paola to publicise their testimonies to sensitise the parliamentarians. We hope that the bill will not only be voted on and approved by the Commission, but also in the Senate Chamber,” said the director of Miles, Claudia Dides, in a statement.

Reportaje en español desde Chile:

La Tercera:

El Mostrador:


El Ciudadano:

SOURCE: Email from Claudia Dides C, Corporación MILES, 12 January 2017


Source, International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion:

Vote in Constitutional Commission of the Senate on Chilean abortion bill currently scheduled for 16 January

by Safe Abortion
Jan 10, 2017

On 15 December 2016, CNN reported that the Constitutional Commission of the Chilean Senate had decided that the bill to decriminalise abortion on three grounds – risk to the woman’s life, rape and fatal fetal anomaly – could be sent to the floor of the Senate for a final vote on 10 January 2017. The Commission conducted two day-long sessions on 2 and 3 January so as to be ready to vote on the bill the following day, 4 January, after almost a year and 10 months since the measure was first tabled in the Congress. But the vote did not happen that day.

On 7 and 9 January 2017, La Tercera reported that the Constitutional Commission will vote on the bill on 16 January 2016. They quote the President of the five-member Commission, Pedro Arroyo, who said: “The Commission has done a lot of serious work on the draft law… It has heard more than 35 experts in different areas of law who have given their opinions in favour or against the bill.” Over a period of three months, they have included professors of constitutional, civil and penal law.

The different positions within the group on this subject are said to augur tensions in the government’s New Majority coalition, which in part have contributed to the slow processing of the bill. However, the news site quoted several Senators who said the quality of the debate and points raised, in spite of personal views against abortion, made it clear that this was an issue of public policy that had to be addressed and was likely to pass. A spokesperson from Chile is Life also thought the debate was serious and professional, but that it would not have changed anyone’s opinions. Claudia Dides of Corporación Miles expressed the hope of many that a vote would finally take place and that sanity will prevail.

The date of the full Senate vote will depend on the Government and whether or not they decide to call an immediate debate and vote, next week or the next…. The Commission’s original timetable was that their vote would be today, 10 January, but this was subject to completion of a session in which legal scholars would be invited to resolve the last doubts of the legislators. That session was postponed due to problems in the diaries of the presenters, so the date for the vote was moved to 16 January.

Member of Congress, Guido Girardi, said in an interview in November 2016: “We have made progress on several issues, such as divorce and civil union, and today it is a matter of seeing what the status of Chilean women in society is… Today we want women to live their sexuality in a full way and that has to be done with sexuality education and contraceptive methods.” He confessed: “I would never have an abortion, but at the least I do not want any woman to be imprisoned for terminating her pregnancy… This is part of our country’s recovery of human rights… This is a priority, and it is an initiative that has 70% support of the country. In addition, we have been challenged from the outside for not recognising women as full subjects under the law… The pressure from conservative groups who oppose the reform is legitimate, but the Government has to govern… We want the Executive to show more urgency on this issue because they made a commitment to the country… even though it is easier not to cause conflict… Every woman must have the ability and the right to make her own decisions in these circumstances. Chile cannot go on like this.”

We are holding our breath until this vote takes place and send solidarity to all our friends in Chile who have worked so hard for so many years for messages like these to come from the mainstream, especially that this vote is about Chile still recovering human rights, in this case for women. [Editor]

SOURCE: CNN Chile, 15 December 2016 ; La Tercera, 7 January 2017 ; PHOTO ; La Tercera, 9 January 2017 (todos en español)

SEE ALSO Video (11 min): CNN Chile interview with Guido Girardi, 8 November 2016 (en español)

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

Changes in the sexual and reproductive lives of Chilean men and women

Primer Informe sobre Salud Sexual, Salud Reproductiva y Derechos Humanos en Chile
by Safe Abortion | posted Jan 6, 2017

El estudio de la Corporación Miles se refiere a los cambios en la vida sexual y reproductiva de los chilenos y chilenas y a los déficit en los campos de las políticas públicas y las leyes, estableciendo comparaciones con otros países.

(This study by Corporación Miles analyses changes in the sexual and reproductive lives of Chilean men and women and the deficit in public policy and law underlying them, and draws comparisons with other countries.)

Este informe analiza el estado de la situación al 2016, tras 28 años de transformaciones y disputas sociociocultales respecto a estas materias. La edición del documento estuvo a cargo de la directora ejecutiva de Miles, Claudia Dides y Constanza Fernández del equipo de investigación de la entidad, y contó con los aportes tecnicos de Leo Arenas, Jennifer Duran, Eduardo Soto, Marissa Velarde, Gonzalo Infante G. y Gonzalo Leiva R.

(This report analyses the situation of sexual health, reproductive health and human right in Chile up to 2016, after 28 years of transformation and socio-cultural disputes with respect to these issues. It was edited by Claudia Dides, Executive Director of Miles, and Constance Fernández of the Miles research team, and includes theoretical contributions from Leo Arenas, Jennifer Duran, Eduardo Soto, Marissa Velarde, Gonzalo Infante G and Gonzalo Leiva R.)

Chapter 5 is on abortion (pages 113-136). It opens by pointing out that the complete criminalisation of abortion in Chile dates from 1989 under the military dictatorship. Despite not being on the political agenda of the coalition governments since the dictatorship ended, 26 bills on abortion have been tabled in the parliament from 1991 to 2010.

According to Ministry of Health data, in 2012 the number of hospital discharges related to abortion were 30,434. Of these, 26,802 cases were women aged 20-44 years and 3,070 were adolescents aged 15-19 years. Of the total, the reasons for treatment were not specified in 7,952 cases while complications were recorded in 219 cases.

Estimates of numbers of abortions annually for the three legal grounds included in the current

abortion law reform bill, based on data from the Health Ministry for 2012, show that the ground of risk to women’s lives would cover an estimated 9,991 cases per year; the ground of fetal anomaly at less than 22 weeks of pregnancy would cover 304 to 543 cases annually, and the ground of rape would cover an estimated 1,035 cases annually.

Further sections of this chapter cover: 1) women prosecuted for abortion since 1998, when the first case was reported, 2) laws, norms and regulations related to abortion, 3) international agreements supported by Chile since 1966 on human rights, 4) norms, protocols and technical guidance, and a concluding section “By way of reflection”.

In March 2016, the Chamber of Deputies approved the law reform bill. In September 2016, the Health Committee of the Senate approved the principle of legislating. A vote in the Senate is awaited.

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion