VALPARAÍSO, Chile (ChurchMilitant.com) - Chilean lawmakers are voting to legalize abortion in one of the most pro-life countries in the world.
The Senate voted on July 18 to legalize abortion in cases where the mother's life is in danger, when the child is conceived in rape and if an unborn baby would not survive the pregnancy.
The legislation was spearheaded by President Michelle Bachelet and pro-abortion activists but found significant resistance by Chilean Catholics and other pro-life advocates, who interrupted the early-morning vote and were escorted out by police.
Bachelet commented, "[W]e can be a country where women can make the best decision possible when faced with such situations."
But Abp. Cristián Cordero of Puerto Montt asks, "To decide on the life or death of your child? Who gave you that right? That contradicts the first human right, that is to the protection of life, [the] first of which is yet to be born."
Bishop Fernando Ramos Pérez, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, warned the bill endangers people's religious freedom, asserting it will "rob the citizens of their freedom to decide in favor of the protection of the life of a human being."
While the bill allows a physician to refuse to conduct an abortion, it does not allow similar protections for organizations, health facilities or other individuals who object to the taking of an innocent human life.
Pérez calls the law "very bad news for our country," adding "it would open the door even more so that the State can rob the citizens of their freedom to decide in favor of the protection of the life of a human being."
Chile's dictator, Augusto Pinochet, declared abortion illegal in 1989, claiming it was "no longer justifiable."
The bill will now go back to the House of Deputies where it is expected to pass and move on to be signed into law by President Michelle Bachelet.