VALPARAISO, Chile, July 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A political miracle occurred last week when all seemed lost for Chile's pro-life movement.
In March 2016, Chile's lower chamber voted to legalize abortion by the comfortable margin of 66 to 44. Since then, massive rallies, protests, and public debate have gripped the South American nation, which has resisted as one of the last no-compromise defenders of the right to life.
That resistance to the culture of death seemed to be coming to an end after outgoing socialist president Michelle Bachelet applied all the political pressure she could muster to force her legislation through. It appeared to all that the president and her Chilean pro-abort cohorts seemed poised to consummate their drive toward the precipice of abortion. The final push came down to an intense legislative session that spilled over from Wednesday night into the early morning of Thursday and finally resulted in the high chamber's vote to legalize abortion by a slim margin. Or so it appeared at the time, even to the closest observers.
Immediately after the Senate vote, pro-abortion organizations such as Amnesty International and Chile's Planned Parenthood affiliate, MILES, declared victory. Pro-lifers vowed to appeal to the Chilean Constitutional Court knowing that the judicial option, while firmly supported by the clearly worded Chilean constitution, would have to navigate through the courts. Those courts at present are presided by a majority of judges seemingly opposed to the right to life.
Then, as the lower chamber prepared for a vote, supposedly a mere formality, something totally unexpected happened.
With pro-lifers on their knees and all hope seemingly gone, the miracle happened. The leftist coalition headed by the president's own socialist party failed to reach the required quorum of 60 votes. The president's plan to legalize abortion failed by one vote out of the chamber's 120 congressmen.
Broadly speaking, the law would legalize abortion in three cases: where there is a risk to the life of the mother, in cases of rape and incest, or in cases where there is negative prenatal diagnosis. However, the law would go much further by creating a judicial bypass for minors and limiting the rights of conscience of health workers.
The abortion bill will now have to go through another round of debates in which a bicameral committee will debate the merits of the law.
The man of the hour, Congressman Marcelo Chavez of the Democratic Christian party, later told local news outlets that he “had not been able to reach a decision” and would therefore abstain from voting. His was the final vote that would have given the pro-abortion faction the necessary quorum. Congressman Chavez put principle over party and abstained from voting, denying his party and the president's coalition the ability to adopt the law.
The bicameral committee that will now debate the law will do so in August, which means the law is less likely to pass given the upcoming national elections. Also, as of the end of this month, the evenly split constitutional court will add another conservative judge who is more likely to overturn the legislation, as it clearly contradicts the Chilean constitution and criminal codes.
The media report that 160,000 back alley abortions take place every year in Chile. As is the case in most countries where abortion activists seek to legalize abortion, Chilean pro-abortion forces have fabricated a preposterous figure for the number of clandestine abortions. An example of this same phenomenon occurred recently in Uruguay, where the government approved the legalization of abortion in 2012. There, the number of clandestine abortions was estimated by abortion advocates as around 150,000. After the legalization, the government reported that only 6,500 abortions were committed, proving that the number of illegal abortions had been a ridiculous and misleading figure.
Chile has consistently enjoyed some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the American hemisphere. More important, Chile has seen the rate of maternal mortality drop every year without the need to legalize abortion. The low maternal mortality along with the fact Chile recognizes the personhood of the preborn and allows no abortions has made the country a prime target for local and international abortion advocates.
After witnessing the legislative proceedings, local pro-lifer Henry Boys Loeb of the NGO Soñando Chile issued an optimistic message to his fellow pro-lifers. “I have witnessed a miracle this morning in congress. My fellow Chileans, let's give thanks to God and continue to work with prayer, action, and conviction. We can save lives in Chile and abortion is far from being legalized in Chile today.”