Determinando las disposiciones relacionadas con el aborto en la propuesta de nueva constitución de Chile


Chile’s proposed new constitution is set to have a significant impact on the country’s abortion-related provisions. This Sunday, voters in Chile will have the opportunity to decide on a constitutional amendment that aims to protect the “right to life and the protection of the life of the unborn child” for all citizens.

The process of formulating a new constitution began in 2020, following a series of demonstrations in response to the high cost of living and inequality in the country. This led to the initiation of a constituent process, which includes the current referendum.

In a previous referendum in 2022, millions of Chileans voted against the first draft of the new constitution, bringing an end to a lengthy and unproductive process. However, the present draft constitution has raised concerns among some observers, who argue that it is more conservative than the one that existed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The initial drafting of the new constitution was carried out by a group presided over by liberals. The document aimed to secure numerous social rights and establish broad environmental safeguards. However, the draft was rejected by Chilean voters in September 2022, as they believed it was too extreme.

Subsequently, a new right-wing Constituent Assembly took charge and prepared a 216-article program, which prioritizes private property rights and advocates for stringent restrictions on immigration and abortion. It is this proposed constitution that voters will decide on this Sunday.

The constitutional amendment under consideration focuses on the “right to life and the protection of the life of the unborn child” for all citizens. The concept of protecting unborn children through the law was accepted by the Chilean Constituent Assembly in September.

Chapter II of the proposed constitution, which deals with “Fundamental rights and freedoms, guarantees and constitutional duties,” provides the framework for the contentious vote. In the first paragraph of this chapter, the “right to life” is established, with both pregnant women and their unborn children being protected by law. The execution of a person is explicitly prohibited.

The present Constitution already guarantees legal protections for the lives of unborn children. However, there are concerns that shifting the focus from “what” to “who” in the proposed constitution may weaken the existing Law on Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy for Three Reasons, which has been in effect for six years. Currently, the only grounds for legal abortion in Chile are when there is a threat to the mother’s life, when the embryo or fetus is not viable, or when the pregnancy is a result of rape.

Opinions on the proposed constitutional amendments vary. Former Council vice president Aldo Valle believes that using the word “who” in the new constitution reaffirms the principle that every human being is a person, potentially paving the way to invalidate the abortion law. On the other hand, Paloma Zúñiga argues that the Constitutional Council should avoid being drawn into discussions regarding free abortion or the renunciation of abortion for three reasons, emphasizing the importance of consistency.

Antonio Barchiesi advocates for legal caution in protecting the unborn child, asserting that the right to life is crucial for the most defenseless human beings. Similarly, Carolina Navarrete argues that the right to life, from conception to natural conclusion, should be explicitly and firmly established in the constitution.

As Chileans prepare to exercise their democratic right to vote this Sunday, the fate of the abortion-related provisions in the proposed new constitution hangs in the balance. The outcome of the referendum will undoubtedly shape the future of reproductive rights and the protection of unborn children in the country.