SANTIAGO – Three women and a police officer were stabbed on Wednesday night during a pro-abortion rally in the Chilean capital.
Some 40,000 people marched peacefully on the main Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins avenue in Santiago, passing the La Moneda state government office, beating drums and carrying banners that read “women on the march until we are free,” “the rich pay, the poor bleeds” and “free abortion now.”
Although no incidents were initially reported, police later confirmed to the press that three women and a Carabineros commander had been stabbed.
None of the wounded had suffered life-threatening injuries, and all four were recovering in hospital.
After two years of negotiations, Chile approved the abortion law proposed by then-president Michelle Bachelet on Aug. 3, 2017, which authorizes the termination of a pregnancy if it endangers the life of the mother; when the fetus is unviable; and when pregnancy resulted from rape.
A group of legislators, together with the so-called #AbortoLegalySeguro movement, announced that they would present a bill that seeks to legalize a pro-choice abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, which does not take into account the three-cause exception previously approved by the 2017 abortion law.
The idea is “that a woman can never be sentenced to prison for taking the decision to terminate her pregnancy,” said Guido Girardi, a senator from the Party for Democracy (PPD) which supports the bill.
“That is why we have drafted a bill that we will present next week along with several senators,” and that he hoped other senators would join him in “the opening of a debate in Chile, a conversation, a democratic process, a space for the vindication of rights and autonomy,” Girardi said in a statement reported by the Radio Cooperativa website.
While Minister of Women and Gender Equity Isabel Pla supported the protesters’ right to demonstrate, she reiterated her conservative government’s pro-life stance.
“What I can reiterate and assure is that the government of President Sebastian Pińera has a position in this matter that remains unchanged (...), which is the defense of life,” said the minister.