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Abortion is illegal in Chile, under any and all circumstances. The only way a woman can terminate a pregnancy is through “accidental abortion”—or, in other words, if something naturally occurred to end the pregnancy. A group of women in the country have made dramatic videos showing why these abortion laws are so dangerous.
When current Chilean president Michelle Bachelet was running for president in 2013, women and pro-choice activists were hopeful that her administration would enact important changes to the abortion laws. Back in January, she introduced a bill to legalize abortion in cases of rape, or if there’s a threat posed to the mother’s health
Bachelet defended the move in a television address. “Facts have shown that the absolute criminalization of abortion has not stopped the practice,” she said in her speech.”This is a difficult situation and we must face it as a mature country.”
But the law has yet to be changed, and MILES Chile, a Chilean non-profit which focuses on education and advocacy for reproductive rights, created a series of faux “how-to” videos on giving yourself an accidental abortion. In one video, we see a woman explaining how you can give yourself an abortion with stilettos and a fire hydrant.
Another jarring video explains how an accidental abortion can be accomplished by walking into moving traffic.
Another shows a woman demonstrating how to make herself fall down the stairs.
The idea is to show how women will go to great lengths to end an unwanted pregnancy, which not only endangers their babies’ lives, but their own.
The abortion laws in Chile weren’t always so medieval. As a 2013 Atlantic article explains:
Between 1931 and 1989, therapeutic abortion—ending a pregnancy when a woman’s life or health is in danger, for instance, or when the fetus has no chance of survival if carried to term—was legal in Chile. But in 1989, in one of [former Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet’s final legislative acts before the country’s transition to democracy, all forms of abortion were criminalized. Under that law, which hasn’t changed to this day, women found guilty of having an abortion or doctors found guilty of inducing an abortion can be sentenced to three to five years in prison.
Currently, if there’s a suspicion that a woman tried to purposely give herself an abortion, she can be turned over to the police. In March, for instance, a woman went to the hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. When the doctor thought she had taken a drug popular in South America for inducing abortions, she was subsequently arrested.
There is still no word on whether President Bachelet’s bill will be approved.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.