SANTIAGO – Chile’s Constitutional Court has decided to postpone its final judgment on the constitutionality of a bill decriminalizing abortion in limited cases until Monday, while women’s rights groups showing their concerned about the delay.
The ten judges of the court were expected to give their final ruling on Friday on whether the legislation violates the Constitution, as conservative opposition parties claim.
It will be approved if more than half of the court rules in favor. In the case of a tie, the legislative branch will make the final decision.
The testimonies of 79 social organizations began hearing on Wednesday with religious, political, health and feminist organizations, among others, expressing their views on the landmark case.
Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet had promised to decriminalize abortion when she took office for the second time in 2014, but has faced heavy pushback from the conservative opposition.
The legislation would make abortions legal if the pregnancy was the result of rape, if the mother’s life is endangered, or if the fetus is malformed. A ban on abortion was put in place during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 until 1990.
Chile is one few countries worldwide where abortion is illegal without exception. Under the current law, abortion is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The decriminalization initiative, which was discussed by Congress for two years, was approved in mid-July.