Chilean Catholics Protest Court Ruling against Free Contraception Program

Hundreds of Chileans announced that they will leave the Catholic Church on April 29, in protest of the Vatican involvement with a court’s anti-contraception ruling. Chile’s Constitutional Court outlawed President Michelle Bachelet’s free emergency contraception distribution program on April 18. The court ruled that free distribution of emergency contraception was unconstitutional. According to Women’s eNews the court ruled that emergency contraception could “endanger a recently fertilized egg.”

On Tuesday, thousands of people marched in the capital of Chile to protest the court’s decision. Gloria Maira, a member of the Movement for the Defense of Birth Control, told IPS, “This is a demonstration by the country in demand of freedom. We don’t want any more moral dictatorships. We want to make the decisions in our beds, we want to decide on our own uterus, we want to decide how many children we will have. We do not accept the Constitutional Court decision.”

Mujeres Publicas, a women’s rights group in Chile, is organizing another protest this time directed at the Catholic Church and not at the courts. The Church has denounced the emergency contraception distribution program from the beginning. According the Women’s eNews, Mujeres Publicas has already collected 500 names of people who are renouncing their membership in the Catholic Church as a result of these laws.

Lorena Etchberry, the spokesperson of Mujeres Publicas, told Women’s eNews, “We wanted to do something other than convoking marches that would protest the church’s public health policies. We are not against any religion or any church in specific, but rather we are protesting the fact that the church is interfering in matters of the Chilean government. We have the right to decide what to do with our bodies, and we also want poor women to have the right to decide.”

President Michelle Bachelet had introduced the distribution program to reduce teen pregnancy and address the economic disparities for access to reproductive health.


Women's eNews 04/25/08; IPS 04/23/08; The Santiago Times 04/14/08; Feminist Newswire 02/06/08

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