Chile’s Chamber of Deputies voted last week to begin debate on a bill that would decriminalize abortion, allowing it for any reason up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
In August, the Chamber of Deputies Committee on Women, Equity and Gender voted against recommending the bill. That recommendation did not stop the bill from proceeding, but it meant that the legislation moved forward with the negative endorsement attached to it. Nevertheless, the negative endorsement did not prevent the bill from passing with a 75-68 vote.
“We are happy and excited because we have taken a tremendous step, which we did not expect, to be honest, in terms of the rights of women,” said lawmaker Maite Orsini, one of the promoters of the legislation.“This is a first step and we are not going to stop fighting until abortion is legal, free and safe for all women in Chile.”
There was much debate surrounding the bill, and Catholic News Agency reports that pro-life legislators displayed pictures of the preborn child’s development at their desks. Karin Luck, a pro-life legislator from the National Renewal, spoke of the hypocrisy surrounding abortion, pointing out that when a woman is excited about her pregnancy, “everyone recognizes a human being in gestation, no one questions the opposite,” but if the woman doesn’t want the child, “that new being loses the category of human being.”
Following the advancement of the bill, Chile’s Catholic bishops issued a statement in which they said they were “deeply disappointed” in the legislation’s approval. The Standing Committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile (CEC) said that “the first human right is the right to life, which must be respected from conception to natural death.” They pointed out that “biological science confirms that a new human life begins from the moment of conception” and the child “is not part of her body,” therefore he must be respected as his own individual.
Reuters reports that there are still many legislative hoops to clear before the bill becomes law. Because changes were made to the bill for its final vote, it will be reviewed once again by the Committee for Women and Gender Equity and then be voted on again in the Chamber of Deputies before moving up to the Senate.
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