Chile Approves Sale of "Morning After" Pill

Prescription Required; Critics Warn of Abortive Effect

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SANTIAGO, Chile, MAR. 20, 2001 ( The Chilean government has authorized the sale of the potentially abortive «morning after» pill, and said it must be sold under medical prescription.

The government´s decision, announced Monday by Health Minister Michelle Bachelet, was preceded by extensive debate at the national level. Scientists, doctors and clergymen pointed out that it is not a contraceptive but an abortive product.

Explaining the decision, Bachelet, who is supported by Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, said that the authorization was given after the Institute of Public Health reported that «from the point of view of health, there is no evidence that it might be harmful.»

Bachelet recommended the pill´s use in emergencies such as rapes or rupture of condoms. The abortive pill will be on the market within two months, and will cost $3.50 to $5 for two pills.

Father Fernando Chamali, professor at the Bioethics Center of the Department of Medicine of the Catholic University of Chile, said a few days ago that the pill challenges the «right to life,» since it implies the endorsement of «the interruption of a pregnancy, under any pretext or in any way.»

«Life exists from the moment of conception, so that any action after [conception] has the effect of interrupting the pregnancy,» Father Chamali added. «The Church considers pregnancy a gift; hence, we do not regard the pill as a medication but a product, as pregnancy is not a sickness.»

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