SANTIAGO – The government of Chile spoke out Thursday in support of a woman who was arrested at a hospital in the northern city of Calama, where she sought medical assistance for complications after a self-induced abortion.
Chile is one of only a handful of countries where abortion is illegal under all circumstances.
“We express our solidarity, our concern for her health condition and the difficult situation she went through being hospitalized and later detained,” Claudia Pascual, the Cabinet minister who heads the National Women’s Services agency, said in a statement.
The 25-year-old woman was admitted to the Calama hospital last Saturday suffering from vaginal bleeding and severe abdominal pain.
The gynecologist who treated her in the emergency room found traces of Misoprostol, an ulcer medication that can be used to induce a miscarriage.
The physician contacted police and the woman was detained at the hospital.
Pascual said the episode highlights the need for a serious debate about the “infringement” of women’s rights in Chile.
President Michelle Bachelet’s center-left government has asked Congress to approve a bill to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape or a risk to the mother’s life, as well as when the fetus is deemed not viable.
Pascual, the first Communist to serve in the Chilean Cabinet since the 1973 military coup that toppled President Salvador Allende, said the Bachelet administration is committed to the defense of women’s rights in this kind of situation.
Terminating a pregnancy is banned in Chile under a decree imposed by dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1989, the year before the return of democracy, that overturned a 1931 law permitting therapeutic abortion.