Trigger Warning: This post contains a description of rape and abortion.
There's been a lot of talk about abortion rights lately, especially with the controversy surroundingTexas' SB 5. A young girl in Chile is now experiencing the awful consequences of restricted regulations on women's health care. What happens when an 11-year-old girl is continuously raped, resulting in a pregnancy that would put the life of the unborn as well as her own in danger, and is denied the choice of an abortion?
This is the case for a family living in Puerto Montt of southern Chile. The 11-year-old child was repeatedly raped over the course of two years by her mother’s partner. After the case was brought to attention by the girl’s maternal grandmother, the mother’s boyfriend then confessed and was later arrested. Despite the fact that doctors see a fatal risk in this pregnancy, ending it is not an option.
Abortion was permitted, with a medical reason, in Chile up until 1973 when General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship banned it. The current government is quite conservative and refuses to loosen the ban. Last year, the senate opposed three bills that would have eased the absolute ban on abortion. “According to the Santiago Times, Chile is now one of just six countries in the world — including Vatican City — with such stringent anti-abortion laws,” says reporter Tara Culp-Ressler. Much of this has to do with the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has a strong influence over the political and social society in Chile. Ideas of purity, morality and a certain divine state that are embedded in religions and some cultural traditions sometimes trump the reality of science, health concerns, and the right to choice. We see that in the United States and around the world everyday.
As Chile is economically progressive and receptive to change, the political and social spheres are maintained as a realm for pious tradition. In that sense, it’s clear that certain aspects of everyday life in Chile are adverse to change, even when a young girls life is at risk.
That does not mean there is no opposition to the state of the Chilean abortion ban. It has caused internal conflict, especially over the past few years. Michelle Bachelet, the former president and frontrunner for the upcoming presidential elections, favors legislation that allows abortion in cases of rape, abuse, and health risks. If elected, Bachelet vows to decriminalize abortion.
Now that this case has reached the public, people are protesting for change. People even circulated an online petition demanding access to abortions in cases of abuse and health risk. This has reopened a national dialogue on abortion law and with the November elections just around the corner, we can’t expect it to simmer down any time soon.
Source via The Telegraph and Think Progress
Photographs via The Telegraph and Think Progress