Chileans March En Masse To Expand Legal Abortion Rights


Around 40,000 abortion rights activists are taking to the streets of Santiago and several other Chilean cities to demand free, safe and legal abortions.

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Activists are out in support of the abortion bill introduced to Congress on Wednesday by legislature Guido Girardi, member of the opposition Party For Democracy. Girardi said as he presented the measure he wants "to open a debate in Chile, a conversation, a democratic process, a space for the vindication of rights and autonomy."

Demonstrators are borrowing from their neighboring activists in Argentina, marching and waving green bandanas to represent their abortion rights demands, seeking what many Argentines are also seeking: free, legal and safe abortions up to 14 weeks of conception.

Rights advocates at Wednesday’s major rallies chanted: "The three causes are not enough" and "The rich can pay, the poor bleed."

Though Argentina has yet to pass its 14-week abortion bill, Chile’s struggle might be more difficult than its neighbor’s has been so far: until last year, abortions in Chile were illegal. It took two years of negotiations before legislatures approved a law last August that decriminalized abortion in three cases: if the life of the pregnant female is at risk; if the pregnancy is the result of rape; or if the fetus can’t survive outside the womb.

However, when conservative President Sebastian Piñera took office in March, his administration rolled back these few long-fought rights when his Health Ministry announced that private clinics could refuse to carry out the procedure on grounds of conscientious objection.

Alondra Carrillo, a spokeswoman for the 8M movement, called on society and authorities to become part of the debate.

The Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Isabel Pla, said on Wednesday: "In a democracy, there are no vetoed issues. The government of President Sebastian Piñera has a position in this matter that is unchanged, that the Chileans have known and that they will know and that it will always be the same: that is the defense of life."

Meanwhile, Argentina’s right-wing president, Mauricio Macri, has said that if the approved by the nation’s house and senate he would sign their abortion bill into law. 



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