(Guest Post by Scott Jacobsen)
Human rights victory: Chile ends a decades-long abortion ban which began under the rule of Augusto Pinochet.
After a complex and fractious process, the nation’s Chamber of Deputies voted 70 to 45 to allow abortion when a woman’s life is in danger, when a fetus in unviable, or when a pregnancy results from rape.
CNN reports that the blanket ban on abortion was one of the last acts of Augusto Pinochet.
This is not a total reversal of the ban. However, it marks a step in a progressive direction favorable to most of the secular humanist community. This vote took place after the Chilean Senate approved, on July 19, the bill introduced by President Michelle Batchelet in 2015.
Batchelet is associated with the Socialist Party in Chile. She noted in a tweet that the three exemptions for abortion have been given general support. Her trust is in the Constitutional Court accepting the voices of most of the citizens. Chile is 2/3rds Roman Catholic, and so a Catholic-Christian supermajority nation.
The Chilean Catholic Bishops have been speaking out against the bill. In a statement, Abp. Cristián Cordero of Puerto Montt, said:
La razón que se esgrime es el “derecho de la mujer a decidir”. ¿A decidir sobre la vida o muerte de su hijo? ¿Quién le otorgó ese derecho?, que contraría el primer derecho humano que es a la protección de la vida, en primer lugar del que está por nacer, como indica la Constitución de Chile, en el art. 19.[The reason given is the “right of the woman to decide”. To decide on the life or death of your child? Who gave you that right? Which contradicts the first human right that is to the protection of life, in the first place that is about to be born, as indicated in the Chilean Constitution, in art. 19.
Los parlamentarios, tanto los del “humanismo laico” como los del “humanismo cristiano” -que se proclaman defensores de los derechos humanos-, deben escuchar a un sector importante y numeroso de la población que está en contra de este proyecto. En particular, los parlamentarios creyentes deben escuchar el mandamiento de Dios: “No matarás”.
Parliamentarians, both those of “secular humanism” and those of “Christian humanism” – who claim to be human rights defenders – must listen to a large and large section of the population that opposes this project. In particular, believing parliamentarians should listen to God’s command: “Thou shalt not kill.”]
Yahoo News reported that the minister for women and gender equality, Claudia Pascual, said:
We are satisfied. We have delivered alternatives, and safe health care options, to all women, regardless of the decisions they make.
To secular humanists, the rights for women reproductive self-determination, and so reproductive health autonomy, tend not to be controversial issues, and stands in contradistinction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches:
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.
Secular humanists, and most progressives, do not share the draconian views of the Catholic church. In general, secular humanists and progressives respect human rights rather than some supposed transcendental law.
Bottom line: This is good news for Chile, and a small step in the right direction.