Chile faces criticism for giving morning-after pill to minors

A new norm approved by Chile's Ministry of Health has met with disapproval for allowing the morning-after pill to be made available to 14 year-old girls without parental consent.

"By 14 year-old minors, it is clear we are talking about children. And by definition children do not have capacity or responsibility in any civil or civic environment," said Congressman Juan Luis Castro, the former president of the Medical College of Chile.

"It is not appropriate to administer this drug at the request of a child," he said. "It doesn't correspond to reality in Chile."

In statements to reporters, Congressman Castro, who is also a member of the Congressional Committee on Health Care, warned that use of this drug by minors "could become an object of abuse."

For his part, committee president Javier Macaya said allowing minors to have access to the morning-after pill "is not the right signal."

"The general rule should be that when a person lives under his parents' roof, he or she depends on them," he said. "They are the ones who represent them legally for many legal procedures in civil legislation, and this should not be the exception." 

"When we are talking about 14 year-old minors, we are talking about people who do not yet have discretion," Macaya added.

Felipe Guevara, the president of the non-governmental organization Always for Life, rejected the commercialization of the morning-after pill, as there are still doubts about the drug's effects, one of which is the prevention of the implantation of a new embryo, causing an early abortion.

"Measures like this only show the profound contradictions of our society," he said, noting that the people who want to regulate the amount of junk food children can eat at school "are the same ones who believe that (a 14 year-old) can ask for the pill without parental consent."

Before proposing such measures, education and discussion should be emphasized "without ideologies that prevent debate," he stressed.

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