Chile: Birth Control Free for Women Over 14
The Chilean government recently decided that contraception will be publicly available for all women over the age of 14. According to IPS, all public health centers must dispense birth control, including emergency contraception (EC), free of charge. The decree also ensures that younger women can without authorization from their parents obtain a prescription for birth control pills.
The Catholic Church and conservative politicians are already criticizing the decision that aims to give women of all ages and incomes control over their sexual and reproductive lives. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, a pediatrician, responded, saying to the Santiago Times, "The obligation of the state is to provide alternatives, and the obligation of families, of each one of us, is to communicate with our children, explain things to them, and to teach them." Government Spokesperson Ricardo Weber expanded on the real need for Chile to provide these services, telling IPS that 14 of every 100 young people are sexually active by the age of 14.
The decision was made by the Chilean Health Ministry after the Chilean Center for the Development of Women asked for greater accessibility to EC.
Media Resources: IPS 9/4/2006; The Santiago Times 9/6/2006