Abortion Reform in Bolivia

Reports out of Bolivia indicate that the government will decriminalize some abortions in that country. The legislature has approved a bill to allow abortions for students, adolescents or girls up to the eighth week of pregnancy. President Morales has said he will sign the bill. There is loud opposition from the Catholic Church that he must face down.

The Health Minister Ariana Campero has pointed out that this bill is a public health matter, that there are over 80,000 clandestine and unsafe abortions annually and that deaths from these abortions is the third leading cause of maternal death.

Until now abortion had been permitted only when the woman’s life is in danger, in cases of rape or incest or fetal malformation.

A further bill is being proposed to decriminalize abortions for reasons of extreme poverty, doesn’t have resources to support a child, has three or more children or is still studying.

These measures are a refreshing adjustment to reality. Women are dying, or becoming infertile, from illegal abortions. The medical establishment must take steps to train more doctors in abortion practice to make sure that legal abortions are accessible and safe and that the woman is treated with dignity.

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