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04.14.08 - "This ban treats women in Chile as second-class citizens by inhibiting their options and their ability to decide whether and when to have children. It is yet another abhorrent example of religiously motivated judges holding fast to ideology at the sacrifice of the health and well-being of the very people they are mandated to protect." Luisa Cabal, Director of International Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights
On Friday, April 5, the Constitutional Court of Chile announced that it will ban the sale and distribution of emergency contraception in the country's public health facilities. The ruling comes after a group of conservative lawmakers filed a petition against Chile's Ministry of Health, aiming to overturn President Michelle Bachelet's decree authorizing free distribution of the contraceptive to women, including teenagers. Luisa Cabal, director of the international legal program at the Center for Reproductive Rights issued this statement in response:
"The Center for Reproductive Rights strongly denounces the Chilean Constitutional Court's decision to ban the distribution of emergency contraception in public health facilities. The harmful effects of this ruling on women and girls are indisputable. A vast majority of the Chilean population relies on the state's public health clinics for reproductive health care. Therefore, this ruling creates two classes of women-a minority who can afford emergency contraception and a majority who cannot. This discrepancy not only violates Chile's Constitution, but the fundamental human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination. In addition, depriving women of a safe and effective means to prevent unintended pregnancy will certainly result in higher rates of unsafe abortion and maternal mortality.
"This ban treats women in Chile as second-class citizens by inhibiting their options and their ability to decide whether and when to have children. It is yet another abhorrent example of religiously motivated judges holding fast to ideology at the sacrifice of the health and well-being of the very people they are mandated to protect. The Center will continue to work within Chile to ensure that women's health and rights are the primary consideration when those in power make decisions that affect them."