October 7 is the deadline for the Constitutional Council to deliver the draft text of the new Magna Carta with the amendments it made to the moderate draft that was previously prepared by the Expert Commission and that was agreed in consensus from the ruling party of Chilean leftist President Gabriel Boric to the opposition. There are several modifications, much of it promoted by the Republican Party, of the radical and conservative right, which was left in May with 22 of the 50 seats of the Council, followed by 11 of Chile Vamos of the traditional right and that, according to the ruling party, with 17 seats, some imply regressions in women's rights.
From the ruling party they mention the approved norm that refers to the right to life of the unbornthat could collide with the law voluntary interruption of pregnancy in three causes that has been in force since 2017 and, another, the conscientious objection that also covers the institutions and that, for the center-left, in addition to abortion in three cases, It could affect the delivery of the morning-after pill. An article is added, which was rejected, and which was transitory, which allowed parity so that in the next two parliamentary elections there would be reserved seats for any of the genders that obtained less than 40%.
"Norms have been enshrined that, frankly, are setbacks for women," lawyer Alejandra Krauss, a militant of the Christian Democracy, of the moderate center-left, of the Expert Commission, told EL PAÍS. It exemplifies with the modification to the phrase of the current Constitution, "the law protects the life of the unborn", by which it was in the draft, "the law protects the life of the unborn". On the other hand, the commission's preliminary draft only mentioned theright to life. "When you talk about who, you're already talking about a person. There are amendments that not only suppose the validity of the 1980 Constitution that we have wanted to change for decades, but much beyond, "he says.
And she adds, as another regression, the rejection of the norm on parity: "It was voted against arguing that meritocracy is the great tool for women. That thesis of meritocracy is already overcome. This has to do with equity and justice, not just with feminist currents solely and exclusively." It is also a setback, says the expert and doctor in law, Leslie Sánchez, of the ruling party, since both the Expert Commission and the Constitutional Council are bodies that have a parity integration, 50% for each gender. Therefore, he adds, if parity had not existed, "we would not be here." "Political inequality in Chile is historic, it didn't start yesterday. And to narrow that gap, it has to be with concrete mandates. It can't be voluntary."
We do not close paths to women, on the contrary, we believe that there are better mechanisms without altering the legitimate and democratic result of an election, and that the necessary public policies should also be promoted to reconcile work and family life, only in this way should the... https://t.co/Td84ClriWa
— M. Angeles López Porfiri (@angeleslpo) September 26, 2023
Even two opponents of the Boric government have joined the criticism for the rejection of parity. One of them is the counselor for Evópoli, of the traditional right, Gloria Hutt, who endorsed to Republicans the responsibility of "closing roads to new leaders." Also Isabel Plá, of the UDI, and former Minister of Women and Gender Equality of the Government of Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022): "Why so much resistance to parity? The rule is reasonable, transitory (two elections) and would accelerate the incorporation of women into Congress. I hope it recovers in the next phase."
This is Chile's second attempt to change the Constitution that was born in 1980 in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), but has been reformed some 60 times since 1989, even since 2005 bears the signature of socialist President Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006). In September 2022, 62% voted against the proposal of a convention that was composed of a radical left majority and without militancy. This new process, which began in March 2022, has been uphill, because according to most public opinion polls it enjoys neither interest nor confidence on the part of Chileans and that the option of a new rejection has been on the rise.
But not everything is settled, because other stages are coming, although with little room for negotiation. Therefore, faced with the adverse scenario, the political class tries against the clock to save the process. And what will be experienced from October 7 will be key. In accordance with the procedure of the process, when the final text is submitted by the Constitutional Council, the Expert Commission must make a report on which it can comment. If there is no quorum, a joint commission is formed.
Today #28deSeptiembre as @MinMujeryEG we remember that #Ley3Causales gives women and girls the possibility to decide whether to continue or interrupt their pregnancy when their lives are at risk, due to fetal unviability or as a result of rape. More info on health answers☎️ https://t.co/FGHTEnpKf0
— Antonia Orellana (she/she) (@totiorellanag) September 28, 2023
The what, the who and abortion
For Republicans, the change of the one by whom is not a fundamental modification, but replaces what the current Constitution indicates "emphasizing that who grows in the mother's womb, is someone," said his counselor, lawyer Luis Silva. This, while Beatriz Hevia, lawyer and president of the Constitutional Council, of the same party, emphasized that "the abortion issue has to be settled in Congress" and that in the proposal "we are not making any changes that could affect the abortion law in three causes."
But in the interpretation of the lawyers of the ruling party that make up the constitutional process, the new statement does put the abortion law at risk on three grounds. "By talking about the life of those who are about to be born, it recognizes the ownership of rights to the embryo, going beyond the 1980 Constitution," said Verónica Undurraga, president of the Expert Commission, independent of the Party for Democracy (PPD), of the official center-left, and specialist in comparative constitutionalism and human rights. Antonia Rivas, of Social Convergence, the same group of Boric, has joined: "The women in this draft are considered as those who care, those in charge of reproduction, people to whom the impulse for political participation is forbidden," she said in an interview in La Tercera.
Even the mayor of Providencia Evelyn Matthei, of the UDI, the main presidential card of the traditional right, who according to the polls far exceeds the repuiblicano leader José Antonio Kast in the preferences, has raised her voice: "In my opinion, it does not make any sense to touch abortion in three causes." He has said it in two interviews he gave a week ago, in which, in addition, he warned that the constitutional process "is going straight to failure and the only way to close this issue is to have a final text as close as possible to the text of the experts," but that, even so, he says he wants it approved.
"Insane" has been said about women's rights in the draft constitution; and that "civilizational advances are vanishing."
I dispute that.
1. For the first time, at the constitutional level, a norm is enshrined that is equivalent to that of the French Constitution in that... https://t.co/o8eIdluanw pic.twitter.com/w1nxHZ359G
— Natalia Gonzalez (@natigonzalez_b) September 27, 2023
Institutional conscientious objection
The adoption of another standard has also sparked legal, technical and political discussion in Chile. It is "the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes the freedom of everyone to adopt, live in accordance with, transmit and transmit the religion or belief of his or her choice, and individual and institutional conscientious objection. Their exercise shall be guaranteed, due respect and protection."
The controversy of the amendment is in the expansion to institutional awareness, which in Chile until now only applies in the abortion law three causes. "It enables pharmacies to refuse to distribute the morning-after pill," said Socialist Commissioner Flavio Quezada, who also warned of other effects that, he said, could affect sexual diversity. "It disproportionately affects women. Outside the classical realm of military objection, conscientious objections typically seek to prevent the provision of health and reproductive services for women. It is objected to prescribe contraception, sterilization and the legal interruption of pregnancies, "he added in the plenary debate Verónica Undurrgaga.
And, in a column in EL PAÍS, Luis Eugenio García-Huidobro, lawyer and researcher at the Center for Public Studies (CEP), warned that institutional conscientious objection "is not limited only to abortion and is extremely difficult to anticipate," but "enshrines the right of institutions (legal or moral persons) to oppose a conscientious objection to exempt themselves from compliance with legal mandates, a prerogative that is recognized as part of the essential core of freedom of thought, conscience and religion."
The Chilean constitutional process culminates on December 17, when the final text is submitted to a plebiscite.
Great concern about approved amendments that would mean setbacks for women: joint statement today by ComunidadMujer, Humanas, Chilemujeres, among other organizations. @AdrianaValdes8 @ComunidadMujer pic.twitter.com/cyDfRiYCFf
— Paula Escobar Chavarría (@paulaescobarch) September 27, 2023