Abortion encroaches on Chile

by Karen L. Willoughby |

SANTIAGO, Chile (Christian Examiner) – Abortion is up for discussion in Chile, one of seven predominantly Catholic Latin American nations, that until now has had a total ban on abortion since 1989.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has sent to the Congress of the long, thin nation on the west coast of South America a bill to decriminalize abortion in the case of malformation of an unborn child; a pregnancy posing a threat to the life of the mother; and conception caused by rape.

She argued for support on the basis of the danger to the lives of mothers from illegal abortions.

But a Chilean researcher has found the total ban on abortions has actually improved health and life conditions for women, drastically decreasing the actual number of maternal deaths as well as the maternal mortality rate.

Abortion is punishable in Chile by up to five years in jail.

"We are providing support to women in a very painful moment of their lives," Bachelet said.

"Facts have shown that the absolute criminalization of abortion has not stopped the practice," she also claimed on national television. "This is a difficult situation and we must face it as a mature country." 

She also said the absolute ban on abortion puts the lives of thousands of Chilean women at risk every year.

But detailed data analyzed by Chilean epidemiologist Elard Koch who is on the faculty of the University of Chile, showed just the opposite: Actual maternal deaths declined by 70 percent after the total ban on abortion was instituted. Moreover, according to Brietbart news, Koch also found "in the period from 1957 – 2007, the maternal mortality rate decreased 93.8 percent."

In fact, only Canada has a lower maternal mortality rate among all the countries of the Americas.

"Even with abortion totally illegal, Chile's maternal mortality rate is lower than the United States, where abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason," Breitbart reported.

Despite being divorced three times and running for office in a heavily Roman Catholic population, in 2005 she was elected Chile's president and served a four-year term. After leaving office in 2010 she became head of the newly-established UN Women, formally named the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, and was an active advocate for abortion.

Bachelet, an attractive red-haired woman with a wide smile, is a popular politician and was elected a second time to Chile's presidency in March 2014.

Chile's estimated population in 2014 was 17.6 million; about 8.8 million are female.

A total ban on abortions is in place in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Suriname and, for the moment, Chile.