A week after thousands of women marched through the streets of Santiago on International Women’s Day 2022, Chile’s constitutional assembly voted that the state should guarantee reproductive rights, including “the voluntary termination of pregnancy”, in the draft constitution.
Fighting through tears before the vote on 15 March, assembly member Loreto Vidal took the floor to talk about how her mother died due to a septic abortion. “They try to divide us as those who are in favour of life, and those apparently in favour of death,” Vidal said. “Every person has the right to liberty, understood as the free determination of their personality, their life projects, their identity and autonomy over their body.”
Paragraph one of Article 16 of the new constitution was approved with 113 votes in favour, 35 against and five abstentions. It states that “everyone is entitled to sexual and reproductive rights. These include, among others, the right to decide freely, autonomously and informed about one’s own body, about the exercise of sexuality, reproduction, pleasure and contraception”.
Paragraph two of Article 16 is also on sexual and reproductive rights and proposes to include in law the voluntary termination of pregnancy. This right was incorporated into the text with 108 votes in favour, 39 against and 6 abstentions.
“The State guarantees the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights without discrimination, with a focus on gender, inclusion and cultural belonging,” it says. The paragraph also ensures access to information, education, health, and the services and benefits required for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy with the aim of ensuring “all women and people with the capacity to gestate, the conditions for a pregnancy, a voluntary termination of pregnancy, voluntary and protected childbirth and maternity”. In addition, the text indicates that “its exercise is guaranteed free of violence and interference by third parties, whether individuals or institutions”.
The draft of the new Constitution should be ready in July and will then be put to a citizens’ plebiscite.
If approved, it will spell the end of the Pinochet dictatorship’s 1980 Constitution.
SOURCES: Metro, by Alexander Villegas, 16 March 2022 ; OICanadian.com, by Helen Hernandez, 15 March 2022 + PHOTO (no credit)