The lower chamber's Health Commission agreed Wednesday to legalize abortion in the most controversial case of the three presented in a governmental bill: rape.
The eight to five vote was issued after a long debate that started on Tuesday evening, during which it was suggested that not all forms of rape are “violent,” according to the words of lawmaker Marisol Torres of the center-right party UDI.
Among other modifications, the commission decided to reduce the time period from 18 months to only 14 in which a girl under 14 years-old would be allowed to terminate her pregnancy in the case of rape.
Lawmakers from the Christian Democracy party – part of the governmental coalition – submitted the modification, which the government granted despite criticism.
Lawmaker Karla Rubilar, of the center-right National Renovation party, said 14 weeks were not enough, arguing that in many cases teenagers noticed their pregnancy beyond that period.
The executive branch of government agreed to include an “accompanying program” involving psychological help. The government denied it considered it a dissuasive program and insisted on the voluntary aspect.
The bill will now be examined in two other legislative commissions before being debated in the lower chamber's plenary session Oct. 6 and 7.
In Chile, a woman who chooses to abort – even if her own life is in danger, if her pregnancy is the result of a rape or if the fetus is considered non-viable – still risks up to five years in prison. Only five other countries contemplate jail for women who opt for abortion: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Malta, the Dominican Republic and the Holy See in Rome.