Legislation that would legalise abortion in certain cases in Chile has been put on hold after supporters narrowly lost a vote on amendments to the proposed legislation.
Chile is currently one of the few countries to completely outlaw abortion without exemption. The proposed legislation would allow it in cases where the mother’s life is not viable, the foetus is in danger, or in cases of rape.
The law, which is strongly supported by President Michelle Bachelet, had already been approved by the lower house (Chamber of Deputies) of the Chilean congress.
The latest ballot, on amendments made to the law by the upper house (Senate), was lost by just one vote after Marcelo Chávez, a member of Bachelet’s own party in the lower house, abstained. This meant that the required quorum for the amended legislation to be passed was not reached.
Only one article of the bill, regarding the authorities and power of the Chilean courts in cases when those aged 14 or under express a desire to terminate a pregnancy but do not have the authorisation of their legal guardians, required this quorum.
The law will now be sent to a ‘mixed commission’ formed of members of both the upper and lower houses of Congress, further delaying its enaction.
Supporters of the bill had been trying to hasten its passage through Congress in the hope of it being revised and approved by the members of the current Constitutional Court, headed by Carlos Carmona.
His successor, Iván Aróstica, assumes charge on 30 August and is widely reported to be against any widening of abortion rights.