Chile Bans Free Morning-After Pills

Court Overturns Earlier Decision

SANTIAGO, Chile, APRIL 7, 2008 ( Chile’s Constitutional Court put a stop to its government’s free distribution of the so-called morning-after pill.

The abortifacient pill was approved for free distribution to women and girls as young as 15 after the Supreme Court approved the government program in February.

The pill, also misnamed as emergency contraception, is a high dosage of what is contained in regular birth control pills. It is recommended to be used after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing (or ending) pregnancy.

It works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation, or by irritating the lining of the uterus so that if the woman becomes pregnant, the embryo cannot attach to the uterus lining and is expelled.

Thirty-six members of the Chilean Congress have been appealing the Supreme Court decision since it was approved, managing to bring the case to the Constitutional Court.

Friday’s 5-4 decision in that court to ban the distribution of the pill cannot be appealed.

A group of 29 Christian and public organizations published a statement lauding the decision.

“We value,” the organizations said, “the decision of the Constitutional Court: It reaffirms the State of Rights in recognizing that in our juridical system, the life of the unborn from the moment of conception is protected.”

“The right to life,” the communiqué continued, “is the first and most fundamental of all rights, and it cannot be subordinated or placed in risk.”

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