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  • Woman in support of safe abortions in Bolivia.

    Woman in support of safe abortions in Bolivia. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 May 2017

Article 152 would modify the penal code to decriminalize abortion in the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

The Constitutional Commission of Bolivia's lower chamber passed the article of a bill meant to ease access to abortion Saturday, with eight votes in favor out of 10 legislators.

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Bolivia Eyes Legalizing Abortion for Women in Extreme Poverty

Article 152 would modify the penal code to decriminalize abortion in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, easing restrictions for when the mother is in extreme poverty or doesn't have sufficient resources to support a child; when she already has three or more children; or if she is still studying.

The bill in its entirety would authorize the practice of abortion at any stage of the pregnancy to prevent a future risk for the mother's life; in the case of fetal deformities; when the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest; or when the pregnant woman is a girl or a teenager. The bill also indicates that the attending doctors can't deny the termination of pregnancy and must maintain professional secrecy.

If passed, women requesting an abortion would only have to complete "a document of informed consent for the woman and indicate the causes and circumstances of her decision, without the need for any other requirement of any nature" to access the procedure.

The debate was short, and the legislators rejected a proposal by opposition representative Mayra Paz to postpone the vote for another time when a national debate could be held. Conservative representative Wilson Santamaria, surprisingly voted in favor of the article, while Eleuterio Huallpa, of the governing Movement for Socialism, voted against.

In 2015 the Women's Hospital of La Paz reported that every day, at least 10 women arrive in critical condition as a result of clandestine, incomplete or poorly performed abortions. The Bolivian Medical Association announced that 115 illegal abortions were performed daily in 2016 and warned of the increase in these procedures in the country.

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