Why Chile’s abortion debate matters to you

pro life pregnant woman_US_Catholic_News_blackandwhite_CNA_7-31-13(2)

Credit: CNA file photo.

One of the world’s most pro-life countries is currently immersed in a tense battle where abortion advocates need to confront the facts: abortion does not solve a country’s problems.

In 1989, going against the momentum of the abortion rights movement, Chile passed a law making the procedure illegal in all cases. It remains one of only five countries (including Malta, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic) in the world where life is protected from conception.

While most of the world moved to legalize abortion – offering it as a solution for women’s health, the elimination of poverty, and positioning it as an important advancement for women’s equality – Chile went against the grain.

Today, according to the United Nations Development Index, Chile is the most developed country in all of Latin America. In recent years it has become known as the most stable and dependable country in terms of politics and the economy in the region.

While there exists very serious income inequality and genuine concerns about an educational system that has been criticized for having made a profit off of students, Chile – surrounded in Latin America by countries in real political and economic crisis (Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia to name a few) – continues to yield considerable political and economic clout.

After a five-year absence required by Chile’s constitution, Chileans reelected Socialist Michele Bachelet, who spent those five years out of office at the United Nations’ newly created “Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women,” where she worked to advance the abortion platform around the world.

In her first 100 days in office this term, President Bachelet promoted a “mature dialogue” about the legalization of abortion.

Chile’s abortion advocates then moved in with a campaign of misinformation shrouded in typical arguments for its legalization: it will reduce maternal deaths, poverty and give women more control over their bodies.

Left-leaning politicians and newspapers began to publish abortion numbers from the notoriously abortion-supporting Alan Guttmacher Institute which, in an effort to approve abortion in Mexico, overestimated the number of abortions in Mexico City by around ten-fold.

What is different about this fight for life is that abortion was once legal in Chile, there are statistics pre and post abortion and the facts are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion’s failure to solve women’s health issues.

Chile’s own Dr. Elard Koch, director of the MELISA Institute for Maternal Health, has completed very important studies showing a country that is much better off without abortion.

In a presentation given to the United Nations in 2013, Dr. Koch presented statistics showing that one of the main consequences of legalizing abortion is more abortions, not fewer maternal deaths. The legalization of abortion, Koch argued, also changes behaviors. After the legalization of abortion in Spain, the proportion of repeat abortions by women reached 35 percent of all abortions in 2010.

During the presentation to the United Nations, Koch presented data which also disputed the popular belief that abortion gives women greater control over their bodies. In his report, he showed that coercion and pressure from partners or parents to have an abortion – 44 percent of all cases – was the greatest reason why women opted to have an abortion.

In terms of women’s health, Koch has shown in other studies that maternal mortality in Chile has dropped by almost 95 percent in the last 50 years, the second best rate in all of the Americas and even better than the United States.

As this data has come to light, abortion advocates have abandoned President Bachelet’s call for a “mature dialogue” on the issue and have used aggressive tactics to mock and silence the Chilean Catholic Church and pro-life leaders.

The global pro-life movement cannot overlook this country at the corner of the world. Here we have real life evidence that a country without abortion is not only better for unborn children, but also for women.