Chile eyes partial decriminalization of abortion

Santiago, May 6 (EFE).- Chile's center-left government plans to decriminalize abortion in certain specific cases, the Cabinet minister who heads the National Service for Women, known as Sernam, said Tuesday.

The decriminalization of abortion, which was contemplated in the platform on which Michelle Bachelet won the presidential election last December, will not occur immediately, said Claudia Pascual.

"The government program includes moving forward in the areas of a sexual and reproductive rights law and also the possibility of decriminalizing the legal interruption of pregnancy in three cases," she said during a meeting with foreign journalists.

"But, when that debate will occur is something that we are still working on, because everything cannot be done at the same time," Pascual added.

On a more personal note, she said that being the first Communist Party member in Chilean history to hold a Cabinet post represents "a tremendous challenge and an enormous responsibility."

"My priority is to fulfill the government program," the Sernam director said, calling on Congress to approve the beginning of operations of 24 new shelters for abused women, which would bring the total number to 48.

Pascual did not provide figures for the number of murders of women in Chile.

With regard to that, she said that it is necessary to create a single register, given that figures and information are currently handled by all the entities involved in the struggle against sexual violence, from the police to prosecutors, as well as the Justice and Health Ministries, along with Sernam.