Palabras clave

Academia, Género,
Derecho y Sexualidad.

Women prosecuted and imprisoned for abortion in Chile

Lidia Casas Becerra *Lidia Casas Becerra *

(*) Integrante(s) de la Red Alas.

Chile is one of the last countries in the world where abortion is absolutely illegal. This paper reports on a study of 80 women who were prosecuted in Santiago for having had an abortion, mostly young women, eight of whom became pregnant followingrape; 40 women who were prosecuted forperforming aborh’ons, almost all older women; and 12 mainly friends and relatives who wereprosecuted as accomplices. Most of the women who had abortions were single mothers; many were domestic workers who had migrated to the city from the countryside. The great majority were reported to the police by the public hospital where they sought treatment for complications. Many spent time in prison, and most had no legal representation or were defended by inexperienced law students from Legal Aid. This paper highlights the gender and poverty-related discrimination thatpoor women having abortions face in Chile, and how the law is used to undermine medical confidentiality Although the number of court cases for abortion has been decreasing in Chile since the mid-1980s, the threat ofprosecution will persist as long as abortion remains illegal.


Reproductive Health Matters 5, no.9 (May 1997): 29-36.