Chile: President Resumes Free EC Program

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a decree on Monday that will resume a program to give free birth control, including emergency contraception (EC), to all women aged 14 and older. The program was halted in mid-January after Chile’s highest court found it unconstitutional because it was implemented by administrative decree, not by presidential decree or legislation.

The program allows women to obtain birth control, including emergency contraception, which can prevent a pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, at no cost from the government and without parental consent. President Bachelet amended the bill slightly to require teenagers to receive free counseling when they are given EC.

Despite Chile’s highly restrictive abortion laws, about 35 percent of all pregnancies in the South American country are terminated illegally, BBC reports. This program aims to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies, but conservative lawmakers have already signaled that they will bring it back to court.
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BBC 1/30/07; AP 1/30/07; Feminist Daily News Wire 1/17/07

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