Chilean Court Halts Free Birth Control Program

Chile’s highest court terminated a 4-month-old program that provided free birth control, including emergency contraception, to women over the age of 14. According to the Associated Press, the court ruled last Friday in a vote of 6-4 that the program was unconstitutional because it was initiated by administrative decree, not by presidential decree or legislation.

The program was enacted in September 2006 and was supported by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, a socialist pediatrician and the country”s first woman president. She said that the program was necessary to ensure that all women had equal access to birth control, and the Chilean government has announced that she will issue a decree to reinstate the program, the International Herald Tribune reports.

The court addressed the case at the request of 32 right-wing legislators who strongly opposed the plan, the International Herald Tribune reports. Jorge Reyes, a lawyer representing the legislators, told the International Herald Tribune that, if President Bachelet issues a decree to reinstate the program, they will “go back to the court to object to other aspects of the program that we consider unconstitutional.”
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International Herald Tribune 1/12/07; AP 1/13/07; Kaiser Daily Women�s Health Policy 1/17/06

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