Yesterday, 17 March, the House of Deputies of the Chilean Congress passed the abortion law reform bill tabled by President Michelle Bachelet and her coalition colleagues over one year ago, following a heated debate.
This would never have happened without the steadfast campaigning of the women’s and human rights movements in Chile. The campaign supporting law reform was enormous. On International Women’s Day, 25,000 people marched in Santiago, including for abortion rights.
A petition with well over a hundred pages of signatures was also sent to the Bachelet government and published in two newspapers, including in La Segunda with all signatories on 14 March. The funds required for the bill were also approved on that day.
Now the bill must go to the Senate, the upper house of the Congress, in order to become law. We can expect a great deal of anti-abortion activity to try and sabotage it. For example, there are apparently plans to take the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal, to try and question its legitimacy.
Abortion was permitted in Chile until 1989 under a law passed by the Salvador Allende government. It was banned by General Augusto Pinochet in one of the last acts of his military dictatorship.
“Incredible, the motion is passed,” said the leader of the Chamber of Deputies, Marco Antonio Nunez.
“This is an historic day. We see the political will to let women make their own decisions,” said lawmaker Karol Cariola of the Communist Party, which is part of President Bachelet’s governing coalition.
According to a recent opinion poll, most Chileans (70%) approve the terms of the law.
Today on Facebook we said: Historic step in Chile! Congratulations to all the amazing pro-choice organizations fighting for women’s human rights in the country. The proposal still needs the Senate’s approval, but this is an important achievement that wouldn’t have happened without these organisations’ tireless campaigning work! #Aborto3Causales