Early in 2015, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a goal for her presidency: to end the country’s total ban on abortion. Currently, women in Chile can face up to five years in prison for undergoing the procedure—with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother—unless the abortion is “accidental.”
Given the legal climate, many women face situations so desperate that they put themselves in extreme danger to end their pregnancies. A recent video campaign by Chilean NGO Miles highlights this exact situation through a series of darkly satirical “how-to” videos, in which Chilean women demonstrate how to induce a miscarriage. The videos effectively highlight the type of risks women in Chile face every day because of the country’s harsh abortion restrictions. Take a look at one video below:
Originally put into law in 1989, the Chilean anti-abortion legislation is unfortunately not unique: four other countries in the world have total bans, and much of Latin America is hostile to abortion.
Bachelet, a Socialist president with a background in medicine, currently faces opposition from an extremely conservative Congress. In January, she proposed legislation that would legalize abortion in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy up to the 12th week, in cases of severe fetal abnormalities or in cases of rape. She also proposed that for girls 14 and younger, abortion in these cases would be legal up to the 18th week of pregnancy. Both pieces of legislation are still before Chile’s Congress, and polls have shown that many Chileans support Bachelet’s proposals.
In her time as president, Bachelet has also tried to legalize the morning-after pill by executive order only to have it banned again by the Constitutional Court of Chile. It is unclear how soon, if at all, the potential legislation would make it through the Chilean Congress, although Bachelet has promised to prioritize the issue. The harrowing how-to videos are a reminder of the brutal conditions Chilean women currently face.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Santiago Times licensed under Creative Commons 2.0
Emma Niles is a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and an editorial intern at Ms. Follow Emma on Twitter @emmalorinda.