Chile moves closer to decriminalizing abortion

Chile’s commitment to decriminalize abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape, the woman’s life is in danger and when the foetus is not viable is a positive step forward to ensure and protect the rights of women and girls in the country, said Amnesty International today. 

The reforms were announced as part of Chile’s adoption of the recommendations made under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), before the Human Rights Council today. Abortion is currently completely illegal in Chile. 

“By planning to decriminalize abortion, Chile is showing its willingness to respect and protect women and girl’s rights to life and non-discrimination,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

“While the proposed reforms currently only refer to decriminalizing abortion in three instances, Chile is finally acknowledging the need to bring its legislation on abortion into line with international human rights standards, which is a welcome first step in the right direction.” 

Chile is one of five Latin American countries where there is a total ban on abortion, the others being the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. 

In May 2014, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that the government would begin debating reforms to the law. 

However the process may not be easy: previous bills, which would have allowed for abortion in certain circumstances, have been repeatedly rejected by the Chilean Congress. 

“The Chilean government needs to act on these positive announcements and turn these plans into law as soon as possible. Meanwhile, this progressive step should act as a wakeup call to the governments of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic who must follow Chile’s example and set in motion plans to protect the rights of women in their countries,” said Erika Guevara Rosas. 

During the UPR adoption, Chile also accepted recommendations to address the excessive use of force by the police, particularly during public protest; as well as repealing the 1978 Amnesty Decree Law and reforming the Military Justice law to exclude civilians of its jurisdiction and align it to international human rights law. 


Abortion was completely banned in Chile in 1989 during the Pinochet regime. 

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council under which it reviews the fulfilment of the human rights obligations and commitments of all 193 UN Member States, with each State being reviewed every four and a half years.  It is a cooperative mechanism, based on objective and reliable information, and equal treatment of all States. It is complementary to the work of the treaty bodies.   

Amnesty International calls on all States to decriminalize abortion in all circumstances and provide legal and safe abortion at least in cases of pregnancies as a result of rape and when the health or the life of the woman is at risk. 

In March 2014, Amnesty International launched a global campaign to protect people’s right to make decisions about their health, body, sexuality and reproduction without state control, fear, coercion or discrimination. The ‘My Body My Rights’ campaign urges governments to decriminalize abortion.