Chilean Senate committee advances bill to decriminalize abortion in some cases

On Tuesday, Chile’s Senate Health Commission voted to approve a bill that would legalize abortion in three specific scenarios: rape, risk to the life of the mother, and “serious” fetal defects.

Socialist President Michelle Bachelet – who recently scored approval ratings as painfully low as 24% – vowed to loosen the nation’s abortion laws during her campaign for re-election in 2013, and is behind the bill to legalize some abortions, according to teleSUR, a pan–Latin American government-sponsored news agency.

TeleSUR reports that the bill survived the Health Commission vote in part due to unexpected support from the Christian Democratic Party. Senator Carolina Goic, leader of the Christian Democratic Party, supported the new legislation, to the surprise of many. The Christian Democrats have been a major factor in opposing the legalization of abortion in Chile, and were reportedly expected to oppose the bill.

Arguing in favor of the bill, Socialist Senator Fulvio Rossi said, “Whoever is against the bill believes they hold the absolute truth on how much the life of a fetus is worth, while disregarding whoever disagrees with their values.”

Life News reports that approximately 100,000 people marched on Santiago, Chile’s capital city, to express opposition to the measure. Carmen Croxatto of Chile’s Pro-Life Pro-Family Network expressed frustration with the Christian Democratic Party’s failure to completely oppose the bill. “It is a mockery that members of a party that calls itself ‘Christian’ dare to legalize the killing of the innocent,” said Croxatto.

Following approval by the Senate Health Commission, the bill still has a long fight ahead of it. TeleSUR reports, “The draft will now go through the constitutional commission, before another debate in the higher chamber—a difficult path as the legislation has deeply divided lawmakers, including members of Bachelet’s governing coalition.”

Chile currently stands as one of the most pro-life nations in the world, in terms of abortion laws. However, the South American nation continues to face pressure to reform abortion restrictions from both internal and external forces.

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