Chile: Court Approves Law Legalizing Abortion

Editor’s note. The appeared on in the September digital edition of National Right to Life News. It is excerpted from a post written by the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI).

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The Constitutional Court of Chile has approved a new law legalizing abortion, ruling that it is not unconstitutional, by a vote of 6-4. The law, which was recently passed following a two-year debate in Congress, allows abortion in cases of the life of the mother, rape, and for life-limiting anomalies in the unborn child. A coalition of pro-life groups challenged the law in court, claiming it violated Article 19 of the constitution which protects the right to life of the unborn child.

The court’s ruling has met with strong criticism from Catholic bishops, who said the decision “offends the conscience and the common good of the citizens.” In a statement, the bishops said that Chilean society as a whole loses with the legalization of abortion. “We are confronted with a new situation in which some unborn human beings are left unprotected by the State in this basic and fundamental right.” The approved law also fails to protect rights of conscience for nurses and other medical personnel, including Catholic hospitals. Legislation to enact and implement the new law has to be passed before abortion is available for the three legal grounds.

OAS “Welcomes” Legalization

The human rights body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), ‘welcomed’ the decision of the Constitutional Court of Chile to legalize abortion under three circumstances, stating that the decision is “an essential step to respect and protect the human rights of women, girls, and female adolescents in Chile.”

The extreme pro-abortion view of the IACHR was expressed by Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, First Vice-President of the IACHR and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, who commented,

“The right to sexual and reproductive health implies that women have the right to have access, without discrimination, to health services designed to address potential risks before, during, and after pregnancy. In the case of involuntary pregnancies that result from rape or incest, as well as pregnancies that pose a risk to a woman’s physical integrity, the State must protect the woman’s right to interrupt her pregnancy safely, legally, and voluntarily, as a guarantee of risk-free maternity and to protect the right of all women to health.”

The Commission urged Chile to promptly adopt and implement measures to enact the legislation. In addition, it sent an anti-life message to other pro-life countries in the region “to adopt legislation designed to safeguard the effective exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, cognizant that the denial of the right to voluntarily interrupt a pregnancy in certain circumstances can constitute a violation of the fundamental rights of women, girls, and adolescents.”

No international or regional treaty for the Americas includes access to abortion as a human right, despite the claims of IACHR commissioners and other pro-abortion activists. However, the American Convention on Human Rights does recognize unborn children as having a right to life in Article 4:1 Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

PNCI notes that the IACHR states that it “derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights” yet it flagrantly ignores Article 4 of the Convention in its pro-abortion fanaticism and in so doing fails to uphold its mandate to promote and protect human rights for all.