Chile Abortion Law Defeated by One Vote
The legalisation of abortion in Chile has been prevented by a single vote in parliament. The stunning pro-life victory surprised most observers. The win took place in the 120 member Chamber of Deputies following action in the Senate approving the legislation to amend Chilean law to allow abortion in certain circumstances.
Deputies had approved the legislation a year ago and pro-abortion activists were confident of approval of the changes made by the Senate. However, the ruling government of President Michele Bachelet and her centre-left Nueva Mayoria (New Majority) coalition, along with collaborating pro-abortion NGOs, failed to ensure that enough supporters of the pro-abortion measure were present for the vote.
The defeat was determined by the decision of Congressman Marcelo Chavez of the Democratic Christian party, a member of the ruling coalition, to abstain from the vote. His abstention denied the pro-abortion faction the 67 votes needed for passage; a number of lawmakers belonging to Bachelet’s coalition were on holidays at the time of the vote.
The measure now goes to a bicameral committee for review before reintroduction which may take place after a change in Chile’s Constitutional Court scheduled for late August. The change is expected to result in a more conservative Court. Pro-life advocates had announced plans to appeal any legislative changes to Chile’s law on abortion to the Constitutional Court. The Chilean constitution protects the unborn child stating in Article 19 that the Constitution guarantees to all persons the right to life and to the physical and psychological integrity of the individual and states: “The law protects the life of those about to be born.”
The Director of pro-abortion group Miles Chile blamed the defeat on Bachelet’s government: “Everyone knows that some deputies and senators will always be absent for any vote, but this could and should have been taken into account by the ruling coalition and this outcome prevented. It is well known, they said, that when it comes to dealing with a draft law, its passage should never be taken for granted until it actually becomes law.”
PNCI. July 28.