Chile Might Be Reforming Its Total Abortion Ban

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Teresa Vargas Valdes, Chile Country Specialist and Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

In Chile, it’s criminal to get an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at risk. Since 1991, several congressional bills have been presented in Chile in order to allow exceptions to this restrictive law, the most recent of which was in April 2012, when the Senate rejected three motions that would have decriminalized the legal interruption of pregnancy in three different contexts: when the life of the mother is at risk, rape and when the fetus is not viable.

The current total abortion ban allows for not such exceptions, and this extreme restriction on women’s reproductive health rights not only conflicts with international law, it also puts the lives of countless women and girls at risk.

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HAPPENING NOW: Mozambique Debating Rape-Marriage Legislation

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

Imagine if you reported a rape, only to discover the law is on the side of your rapist.

A couple months ago, we shared the story of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl in Morocco who was forced to marry the man who raped her. Months after being married, Amina committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region.

In January, nearly two years after Amina’s death, the widely-criticized clause in Morocco’s Penal Code sanctioning the marriage was finally abolished.

But elsewhere in Africa, the struggle is far from over.

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Tell the United Nations: Protect #MyBodyMyRights!

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I’ve just come from opening week at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), when thousands of women’s rights activists and member state delegations descend on New York to review the current state of affairs for women and girls globally and recommend actions states can take to advance gender equality and promote female empowerment.

Many of the events this week are calling attention to sexual and reproductive rights as a primary barrier to development progress and the enjoyment of rights and dignity for all. The priority theme for the CSW this year is a review of progress for women and girls under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

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