SANTIAGO – Dozens of women protested Wednesday in front of the Chilean Ministry of Health to condemn the decision to modify the “protocols on conscientious objection,” allowing private hospitals to continue to receive state funds despite denying women the possibility to carry out abortions.
Protesters chanted several slogans and carried banners reading “Abortion is an option, deciding is a right” and “A pregnant girl is a raped girl.”
The demonstration ended after an hour, with no incidents or arrests being reported.
Chile only recently decriminalized abortion and the procedure is only legal in cases of rape or health risks to the mother or when the fetus is not viable.
Last Friday, the new conservative government ratified the modification of the protocols on conscientious objection to the law decriminalizing abortion.
This change allows private institutions that deny women the possibility of carrying out an abortion to continue to receive public subsidies.
It also eliminates the requirement stating that each conscientious objection must be signed by the director of the hospital or clinic.
During a demonstration on Monday, former Health Minister Carmen Castillo told reporters that the amendments made by Sebastian Piñera’s administration “would cause enormous harm to middle-class women.”
The president of Chile’s medical association, Izkia Siches, also spoke out, saying that this change “is rash and doesn’t consider the importance of these modifications nor their impact.”
“We can see that conscientious objection, which used to be uncommon, will now become an everyday right for institutions, losing sight of the fact that what needs to be done is to protect women’s access to their rights,” she said.
During the last 10 years, according to official figures, 322,814 abortions were carried out in Chile.