Chile Busts Woman Hospital Said Had an Abortion

25-year-old arrested for illegal act after she came in for severe stomach pain
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2015 12:09 PM CDT
Chile Busts Woman Hospital Said Had an Abortion
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet listens to Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina during their joint press conference at the National Palace in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Jan. 30, 2015.   (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A 25-year-old woman who showed up at a Chilean public hospital Sunday with severe stomach pains and vaginal bleeding was arrested after a doctor suspected she used a drug to induce her own abortion, the Guardian reports. The unidentified patient at the Carlos Cisternas facility is still under medical supervision and no charges have been reported yet, according to the hospital's director; the woman is believed to have taken misoprostol, a medication said to be popular in Latin American countries where abortions are illegal. "There is a legal norm that indicates a complaint must be filed," the country's undersecretary of public health says, per the Guardian. Chile is one of just a handful of places in the world that have outlawed abortion, even in cases of rape or when the mother's life is at risk.

Then-President Augusto Pinochet made the procedure illegal in 1989, per Human Rights Watch, though current President Michelle Bachelet is backing a bill in Congress that would ease restrictions if the mother's health were endangered, if the fetus wasn't expected to be viable, or in cases of rape, Reuters reports. For now, abortions take place in secret: Estimates in Chile range from 15,000 to 200,000 abortions annually, per the Guardian; Human Rights Watch puts that number at 160,000 per year, with 64,000 of them happening to girls under the age of 18. (The US GOP indefinitely postponed a recent abortion bill banning most late-term abortions.)

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