Chile: The right to abortion is included in the preamble of the Chilean constitution

admin March 26, 2022
Updated 2022/03/26 at 9:07 PM
Chile: The right to abortion is included in the preamble of the Chilean constitution
Chile: The right to abortion is included in the preamble of the Chilean constitution Listen to this article

A demonstration in favor of legal abortion at Plaza Baquedano in Santiago de Chile.
A demonstration in favor of legal abortion at Plaza Baquedano in Santiago de Chile.NurPhoto (Getty Images)

The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet outlawed abortion on all grounds, and by probable calculations, about 70,000 pregnancies were aborted each year in conditions of extreme insecurity. It was only in 2017, after 27 years of democracy and much resistance, that Chile went ahead with decriminalization in three specific cases: threat to the life of the mother, fetal malformation and rape. After a long struggle by women’s movements, and especially after the new feminist wave that spearheaded the 2019 protests, abortion rights are enshrined in the proposed constitution, on which the convention is working against the clock. It was a convention decision that, like no other in the world, was made up of equal numbers of men and women.

“All people are holders of sexual rights and reproductive rights. These include, among others, the right to decide freely, autonomously and the right to be informed about one’s own body, about sexuality, reproduction, pleasure and contraception”, the proposed rule says. “The state guarantees the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights without discrimination (…) as well as guarantees access to the services and benefits it requires,” points to the text that was published Tuesday, March 15 by Two Thirds. was approved to become more than necessary. Part of the draft that will be presented to the public.

The decision that was taken by the constituent body – along with leftist and minority right – has highlighted the disapproval of some regions that are part of Chilean society but do not have force in the convention. The proposal has caused controversy, among other issues, as it is not often that the criterion for abortion is explicitly included in the Constitution. The general aim is to establish sexual and reproductive rights, but in a general way.

But expert and lawyer Tania Bush, an academic at Andrés Bello University and director of the Chilean Association of Constitutional Law, puts it in context: “What was approved can be classified as bold, because it goes into great detail. Innovates in specifying what sexual rights mean and in the context of public policies with elements such as reproduction, childbirth, full sex education, family planning and cultural relevance.

To the expert, abortion rights would be accompanied by a constitutional norm separated from the usual legislative and political debate. “The possibility of declaring abortion as an offence, which can be performed within the limits and within the time limits established by law, shall be ruled out from the outset. On the other hand, that the law is in the constitution, would represent a guarantee about the restrictions that legislators can establish, since they cannot make the law misleading”, the constitutionalists point out. And it exemplifies: If a woman has the right to interrupt a pregnancy, future laws may not make this right ineffective and impractical by, for example, a shorter period of weeks as a limitation.

Surveys have shed light on support for termination of pregnancy. According to an Ipsos study from last September, 73% of citizens approve: 41% think free abortion should be approved and 32% believe it should only be done under certain circumstances. For Fernanda Marin Ray from the Network of Political Scientists, a feminist activist for sexual and (non)reproductive rights, “the content and form are both enormous advances – both practical and symbolic – in women and people with the ability to conceive.” Chile for. , since it was a collectively built landmark”.

Marin Rey believes that “the placing of sexual and (non)reproductive rights as a fundamental matter in Chile’s new constitution is an unprecedented event and far exceeds the imagination of many women.” Furthermore, he says, it was approved with an overwhelming majority, something that is also highly symbolic. Activists recall that it will be up to legislators to go into details, but they expect legal abortion rights to be included as an integral notion, given its complexity, but consider it a milestone. reproductive life of women. “In this sense, abortion rights should be understood as a strengthening of our democracy and a notion of social justice, not merely as failures in contraception,” says Marin Ray, who incorporates the word “happiness”. consider it important to do so. proposed rule. “That we see that the word ‘happiness’ written in the draft Chilean constitution must be one of the best news in recent years!, he says.

There are fears from critical areas that the convention, along with a criterion that guarantees the right to terminate a pregnancy, seeks to open the door to free abortion, because the law – conservative conservatives have explained – did not put limits on the constitutional right. could. Bush maintains that no fundamental right can be understood in absolute terms and, in fact, to allay doubts, the same convention promised to draft an article to regulate abortion limits. Congress is mandatory.

Currently, the law does not set a limit of weeks for reasons of invisibility of the fetus and threat to the life of the mother, but in case of rape, for people over the age of 14, a maximum of 12 weeks is established. Below 14 years, maximum 14.

Although the approval of a new constitution in September does not guarantee approval – the convention’s work has many difficulties – activists believe the inclusion of abortion as a right should not inspire a rejection of the text. “While we know closely those who are against the rights of women and those with the ability to conceive, my guess is that mobilization to demonstrate against potential sexual and reproductive rights legislation isolates and undermines convalescence. with you,” he says. Scientist Marin Rey, in the context of the referendum, which opened the way for Chile’s constituent path, where up to 80% was imposed the option to change the constitution born in the Pinochet dictatorship.

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