Chile’s Policy of Free Emergency Contraception Under Threat
Conservative officials in Chile are threatening the country’s progressive emergency contraception (EC) policies with a lawsuit that would ban EC. Under the policy of President Michelle Bachelet’s administration, all forms of birth control including EC have been free for women over 14 at public clinics since 2006.
Conservatives argue that President Bachelet’s policy violates the Chilean ban on abortion based on the misconception that EC is a form of abortion, according to Women’s eNews. However, despite the heavily Catholic influence on Chile, Women’s eNEws reports that 49 percent of Chileans believe that women should have the right to access EC.
Along with the resistance against the policy from conservative politicians, President Bachelet's administration is also battling pharmaceutical companies to force them to keep emergency contraception in stock. Rep. Maria Antonieta Saa of Chile's Party for Democracy told Women’s eNews, "A pharmacy should not represent the conscience of the people. Individuals have their own conscience. This pharmacy is making a decision that is not its to make."
President Bachelet has passed and enforced legislation to ensure birth control’s availability since she arrived in office in 2006.
Media Resources: Women’s eNews 01/31/08; Feminist Daily News Wire 01/31/07; Feminist Daily news Wire 10/30/07; Latin American Press 04/10/07