Chile's President Wants To Change Country's Total Ban On Abortion

Image: Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
epa04597728 A handout photo released by Presidency of Chile shows Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (C) at the signing of the project of law on the decriminalization of abortion at La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago de Chile, 31 January 2015. Bachelet signed and sent the project to Chile's Congress that allows abortion in three circumstances: in case of rape, inviable fetus and risk of the mother's death. EPA/XIMENA NAVARRO / PRESIDENCY OF CHILE HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES/NO ARCHIVESXIMENA NAVARRO / PRESIDENCY OF C / EPA

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has sent the country's Congress a bill to decriminalize abortion in three types of cases: malformation of a fetus, a pregnancy posing a threat to the life of a woman carrying a fetus, and conception caused by rape. Chile is one of the few countries in the world that prohibits abortion under all circumstances.

The bill is expected to face strong congressional debate; opposition leaders and even some in her party have said they will fight the change.

About 16,500 women are hospitalized each year in Chile due to life-threatening complications of pregnancy or because of malformations of a fetus, according to Bachelet's office. She said about 500 deaths are recorded each year from fetal malformation.

"We are bringing women support in a very painful moment in their lives," stated Bachelet, which was tweeted by the government.

--The Associated Press