The Coming Fight Over Chile’s Strict Abortion Laws

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BY Rebecca Bintrim | October 18, 2016
A legislative push could end a dictatorship-era ban on abortion. But the effort to expand access has many opponents.

On October 2, the amplified thump-thump-thump of babies’ heartbeats echoed in front of Chile’s La Moneda Palace. A dozen pregnant women, loudspeakers attached to their protruding bellies, stood with some 100 supporters to protest pending legislation that would liberalize the country’s harshly restrictive abortion laws. Calling their campaign “La Voz del Corazón,” or “The Heart’s Voice,” the demonstration was just one example of pushback against efforts to expand abortion access in a country that is otherwise a beacon of progressive rights in the region.

Recently ranked as Latin America’s third-most inclusive country in AQ’s annual Social Inclusion Index, Chile recognizes same-sex civil unions, has some of the region’s strongest protections for political and civil rights, and counts a woman, Michelle Bachelet, as its president. But the country is behind the curve on abortion rights, among the likes of El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic as places where women can face jail time for having an abortion for any reason.

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Source: America's Quarterly