In re Access to Emergency Contraception in Chile (Chilean Constitutional Court)

On April 13, 2007, the Center filed a third party intervention in support of the national reproductive health and family planning regulations authorizing the free distribution of emergency contraception (EC). The Center’s intervention was a direct response to a petition filed before the Chilean Constitutional Court by a group of conservative parliamentarians to outlaw the government’s regulations.

The parliamentarian's petition requested the prohibition of all contraceptives containing levonorgestrel, including emergency contraception and IUDs.  It argued that these contraceptive methods breach the right to life as they have an abortifacient effect and abortion is prohibited under Chile's Criminal Code. The petition also requested the prohibition of confidential counseling on contraceptive methods to teenagers without parental consent. The Center's intervention argued, grounded on recognized scientific evidence, that emergency contraception is not an abortifacient and that equal access to emergency contraception is a human right under binding international human rights obligations.  

On April 4, 2008, the Court voted to ban public health facilities—on which a large sector of the population depends—from distributing freely emergency contraception.  However, the Court dismissed arguments requesting that non hormonal contraceptives, IUDs and adolescent counseling be prohibited. In Chile, decisions rendered by the Constitutional Court are final. Since the decision was issued, the Center has been requested to, and has provided technical advice to local partners on strategies to challenge the decision at the international level.

The Center