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  • Social organizations protest against the criminalization of abortion in Chile.

    Social organizations protest against the criminalization of abortion in Chile. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 August 2017

The ruling on the decriminalization bill proposed by President Michelle Bachelet has been postponed.

Chile's Constitutional Court has decided to postpone unitl Monday its final judgement on the constitutionality of a bill decriminalizing abortion in exceptional cases.

Women's rights groups say they are concerned about the delay.

Chilean Women Hold Breath As Abortion Bill Faces Last Hurdle

The ten judges of the court were expected to give their final ruling on Friday on whether the legislation violates the Constitution, as conservative opposition parties claim.

It will be approved if more than half of the court rules in favor.

In the case of a tie, the legislative branch will make the final decision.

The testimonies of 79 social organizations began hearing on Wednesday with religious, political, health and feminist organizations, among others, expressing their views on the landmark case. 

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet had promised to decriminalize abortion when she took office for the second time in 2014, but has faced heavy pushback from the conservative opposition.

The legislation would make abortions legal if the pregnancy was the result of rape, if the mother's life is endangered, or if the fetus is malformed. A ban on abortion was put in place during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 until 1990.

Beatriz Sanchez, presidential candidate of the leftist Broad Front, has defended the decriminalization bill.

“We are living historical days, we are discussing whether women have a right to their bodies,” Sanchez said. 

“Today this decision is denied to us, others take it for us, mainly men who occupy predominantly positions of power in Chile.”

Chile is one few countries worldwide where abortion is illegal without exception. Under the current law, abortion is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The decriminalization initiative, which was discussed by Congress for two years, was approved in mid-July.

A group of opposition lawmakers, however, appealed to the Constitutional Court, alleging that it contravened the right to life established in the Constitution.

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