The U.S. isn't the only place where abortion debates are raging. In Chile, the case of a pregnant 11-year-old girl has ignited the fury of many Chileans upset that the pregnancy cannot be ended—although the girl was allegedly raped repeatedly over the course of two years by her mother's partner and is now 14 weeks pregnant. Although the pregnancy is extremely high-risk for both the girl and the fetus, abortions in the socially conservative country have been outlawed for decades, even for medical reasons. The Chilean senate rejected three bills to ease restrictions on abortion last year.
"Chileans were outraged on Friday after state TV reported that the girl is 14 weeks pregnant and was raped repeatedly over two years. Police in the remote southern city of Puerto Montt arrested her mother's partner, who confessed to abusing the fifth grader. The case was brought to their attention by the pregnant child's maternal grandmother.
Doctors say the girl's life and that of the fetus are at high risk. But in Chile, ending the pregnancy is not an option.
Chile allowed abortions for medical reasons until they were outlawed in 1973 by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. The current government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera has opposed any loosening of the prohibition.
Many Chileans were venting outrage on social media Friday. Some started an online campaign to demand legalization of abortion in cases of rape or health risks for the mother."
"The Chilean elite is very conservative and this has had an influence in Congress," said Patricio Navia, a Chilean political scientist who teaches at New York University. "Laws, therefore, change at a much slower pace than the rest of Chilean society. Because society is much less conservative than it was 15 or 20 years ago."
In fact, forty years after a brutal dictatorship, Chile remains firmly conservative in social matters. Divorce wasn't legalized until 2004, making the nation one of the last in the world to grant married couples that right.
In Latin America, only Cuba, Uruguay and some local governments make early abortions accessible to all women.