Chile’s Constitutional Convention approved an article on the right to abortion. Activists and constituents hailed the step as crucial advance. Other proposals were also directly accepted with a two-thirds majority, but some still have to be reviewed and rewritten.
With 108 votes in favor, 39 against, and six abstentions, the plenary of the Constitutional Convention approved an article on sexual and reproductive rights.
Based on a report by the fundamental rights committee, the article requires the state to provide the conditions for abortions and enable “access to information, education, health, and the services and benefits required.”
The meaning for reproductive rights
According to the text, the exercise of reproductive rights must be “free of violence and interference by third parties, whether individuals or institutions,” effectively abolishing punishment for an abortion.
A section on the right to benefit from scientific progress regarding sexual and reproductive rights was not approved by two-thirds of the plenary. But since over 50 percent voted in favor, it will be rephrased and debated again by the committee. Janis Meneses, one of the committee’s leaders, said in a statement that the section could still be approved as the Convention generally has shown it takes popular demands into account.
The pro-abortion movement has been growing regionwide, and the feminist movement is especially strong in Chile. The recent approval is seen as a leap forward by many women. Following similar legislation in Argentina, Chile moved closer toward decriminalizing abortion in late 2021, when the lower house approved a plan to debate a bill allowing terminating a pregnancy during the first 14 weeks.
Abortion was decriminalized under strict conditions in Chile only in 2017. It is allowed if women can prove the pregnancy is not viable, their life is in danger because of it, or that it resulted from rape. Many medical service providers, owned by powerful conservative elites, were allowed to opt out of the law, however.
In Latin America, abortion is only legal in Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, Mexico City and three other Mexican states. El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua maintain complete abortion bans.
Stephanie Iancu just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and she is aiming to go on and earn a postgraduate degree in Journalism. Her main areas of interest are politics, women’s rights, human rights and culture. She is currently taking a gap year and staying in New York while interning at Chile Today.