HEALTH

Chile, among the few countries that ban all abortions, moves to allow them in some cases

  • BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 27:  Chilean President  Michelle Bachelet speaks to the media with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) following talks at the Chancellery on October 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Bachelet is on a two-day official visit to Germany, which includes a visit to Dresden, where Bachelet studied medicine as a student.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 27: Chilean President Michelle Bachelet speaks to the media with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) following talks at the Chancellery on October 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Bachelet is on a two-day official visit to Germany, which includes a visit to Dresden, where Bachelet studied medicine as a student. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, center, speaks at a press conference, alongside Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, left, and Congressman John Carney, right, during her visit to the Port of Delaware on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Wilmington, Del. Delaware is a major entry point for shipments of fruit from the South American county. (AP Photo/Jessica Kourkounis)

    Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, center, speaks at a press conference, alongside Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, left, and Congressman John Carney, right, during her visit to the Port of Delaware on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Wilmington, Del. Delaware is a major entry point for shipments of fruit from the South American county. (AP Photo/Jessica Kourkounis)

President Michelle Bachelet sent legislation to Congress on Saturday proposing to allow some abortions in Chile, a socially conservative South American nation that is among the few countries in the world that ban abortion in all circumstances.

The bill would decriminalize abortions in three types of cases: malformation of a fetus, a pregnancy posing a threat to the life of a woman carrying a fetus, and conception caused by rape.

Bachelet's proposal is likely to face an arduous debate in Congress, where several opposition legislators and even some members of her New Majority bloc have already announced they will fight the change.

The president announced last May that she would push such legislation. She noted that therapeutic abortions were allowed during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

According to figures released by Bachelet, about 16,500 women are hospitalized each year in Chile due to life-threatening complications of pregnancy or because of malformations of a fetus. She said about 500 deaths are recorded each year from fetal malformation.

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