By Meg Jalsevac

SANTIAGO, Chile, September 26, 2006( – After a turbulent legal struggle, the Health Ministry of Chile has succeeded in its efforts to have the ‘morning after pill’ made available to minors without parental knowledge or consent. The abortifacient ‘morning after pill’ can now be dispensed in public health clinics for free to any woman or minor over the age of 14.Â

In 2005, a Chilean court voted to allow the drug to be distributed at public health clinics, including to minors above 14 years of age – a measure the government implemented on September 2 of this year. Shortly after that, the Santiago Appeals Court suspended the permission until a lawsuit on the matter filed against the Health Ministry was heard and resolved. Now, permission has once again been granted due to, what some consider, a more liberal mindset in the present rotation of judges sitting on the Court.Â

Chile is known to be a conservative country and has not, until the introduction of this drug, allowed for abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. The newest court ruling, that the ‘morning after pill’ would be temporarily allowed, was decided on the grounds that the Santiago Appeals Court would determine the drug’s constitutionality as a possible abortifacient in the coming weeks. Those in favor of the drug argue that it does not cause abortions and so does not violate the constitutional ban on abortion.

The fight for and against this drug has sparked deep division throughout the entire nation. Prime Minister Michelle Bachelet has consistently been supportive of the distribution of the pill. The government has argued that distributing the pill in public clinics would facilitate proper health care coverage to women of the lower classes who might not be able to afford the cost of emergency contraceptives.ÂÂ

Mayor Pablo Zalaquet of the Santiago municipality, La Florida has been one of the leading forces against the pill. He argues, “This is a slap in the face to parents and families in Chile and unfortunately the ones who will pay will be the poor and the country’s youngest children.”Â

Both sides of the argument will work to prepare their case for the upcoming hearing in the next few weeks of the lawsuit against the Health Ministry. The Church and other pro-life forces in Chile will argue that, not only is ‘the morning after pill’ abortifacient but allowing 14 year old girls to obtain the pill without parental consent robs parents of their most fundamental rights in regard to caring for and educating their children.Â

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
  Chilean Supreme Court Orders Sale of Abortifacient Morning-After Pill
  Chile’s Mayors Refuse Morning After Pill Push
  Chile Court Suspends Gov’t Plan to Distribute Free Morning-After Pill