By Gudrun Schultz

SANTIAGO, Chile, October 24, 2006 ( – The Constitutional Tribunal of Chile has called for an investigative study into the abortifacient capacity of the morning-after pill, after a 6-4 vote last week.

The Tribunal has decided to review a controversial policy to permit minors over the age of 14 access to the pill free of charge, without parental consent, implemented by the Ministry of Health in September despite strong objections throughout the country.

The Alliance for Chile, a coalition of the nation’s two leading conservative parties, fought for a re-evaluation of the Ministry’s decision, saying the policy violates the constitutional rights of the unborn child as well as the parental rights of the minor girl’s parents, the Santiago Times reported yesterday.

Thirty-two members of the opposition in Chile’s congress presented a petition to the Tribunal calling for the overturning of the previous court decision to permit the distribution of the emergency contraceptive to minor girls. The Alliance argued that as an abortifacient, the pill violates Chile’s law against abortion. The Chilean constitution contains a prohibition against abortion under any circumstances, including cases of rape or incest.

Further, in a written statement, the Alliance accused the government of evading proper legal channels by resorting to administrative policy to push the decision through, Spero News reported.

The investigation results will lead to a new ruling on whether to allow the drug to be distributed to under-age girls without their parent’s knowledge or consent.

Conservative Dep. Jose Antonio Kast said the Tribunal decision was “very important because it opens a discussion about the government’s ability, through ministerial resolutions, to violate rights guaranteed in the constitution.

“If the government wants to debate an issue related to the right to life or the rights of parents to educate their children, they should formally request a change to the Constitution in Congress. They should not make such decisions within the four walls of a ministry, assisted by a pair of pro-abortion consultants from nongovernmental organizations.”

Representative Francisco Chahuan said the court’s move would permit a thorough review and would strengthen the importance of the family in public health policies, CNA reported.

After the drug was approved for use by the Ministry of Health in 2001, the Chilean Supreme Court banned the pill on the grounds that it was in fact an abortifacient. The Ministry of Health side-stepped that ruling on a technicality, however, by approving a different brand of the medication and guaranteeing availability for women over the age of 18.

The country has been sharply divided on the volatile issue. Mayors of several districts openly refused orders from the health ministry to ensure the drug was available for minor girls. The mayors backed the call for a review by the Constitutional Tribunal.

La Barnechea Mayor Marta Ehlers stated in September, “We are considering presenting a case to the Constitutional Tribunal that the administrative measure violates one of the fundamental rights of our Constitution: the right to teach our own children (how to behave) until they are mature enough to make important decision.”

See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
  Chile’s Mayors Refuse Morning After Pill Push

Chilean Court Reverses Its Decision and Allows Abortifacient ‘Morning After Pill’

Chile Court Suspends Gov’t Plan to Distribute Free Morning-After Pill

Chilean Supreme Court Orders Sale of Abortifacient Morning-After Pill