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Conscience Magazine

Chile’s Constitutional Court Upholds Recent Law Relaxing Abortion Restrictions

November 16, 2017

Abortion rights activists in Chile received a landmark victory in August as the country’s Constitutional Court upheld legislation relaxing Chile’s abortion ban. The former ban, dating to the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, criminalized abortion in all circumstances. Once the new law passed the legislature, conservative opponents filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. The court upheld the law, delivering a victory for both reproductive rights and a democratic Chile. President Michelle Bachelet declared the court’s decision marked a “historic day for the women of Chile!” Bachelet’s position reflects the approximately 70 percent of Chileans who supported the measure, despite resistance from the Catholic hierarchy and a few ultraconservative politicians. Advocacy group Miles Chile previously estimated that 70,000 abortions are carried out in secret in Chile each year, demonstrating both the immediate positive impact the new law will have in the country, as well as the work that abortion rights advocates still need to do to ensure accessible and safe family planning and abortion services throughout Chile.