By Dave Andrusko
Outgoing Socialist Chilean President Michelle Bachelet made changing her nation’s protective abortion laws a major priority, once she was elected for a second time in 2013. She stands on the brink of a breakthrough–or perhaps not.
On Wednesday, the nation’s Chamber of Deputies voted to allow abortion when a woman’s life is in danger, when the unborn child has a negative prenatal diagnosis, or when a pregnancy results from rape. The vote was 70 to 45.
The measure would also create a judicial bypass for minors and limit the conscience rights of health workers.
The bill had previously passed the Senate.
In a tweet after the vote, Bachelet said, “Today women recover a basic right that we should never miss: decide when we live moments of pain.”
But the bill must still pass muster with the Constitutional Tribunal, which is by no means certain. Reuters reports
It is not clear when exactly the matter will be tried by the Constitutional Tribunal. The body’s current center-left president is set to be replaced by a conservative jurist on Aug. 29. Should the bill be litigated after that period, analysts say, the chances of it being struck down increase.
The head of the tribunal, a center-left Bachelet appointee considered supportive of the bill, is expected to be the swing vote in the ruling — but he will be stepping down when his mandate ends August 29. At that point, he will be replaced by conservative judge Ivan Arostica, who is thought to be firmly anti-abortion.
“We’re going to allege (in the court) that the project violates the right to life,” said Senator Juan Antonio Coloma. He was alluding to a provision of Chile’s Constitution that protects the life of the unborn.