Watch: In Chile, only accidental abortions aren’t considered crimes

A new video campaign from the Miles Organization pokes sickening fun at the criminalization of abortion in Chile, where the procedure is illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the pregnant person’s life. 

In one of the videos, a curly-haired woman looks at the camera, holding it in front of her. “I’m going to tell you how to do it,” she says. Go out to the street, wait for the yellow light, and choose the car most likely to speed through the intersection. When you walk into traffic, “make sure the car hits you head on, in the stomach,” she reminds the viewer. The screen goes black as the car screeches into her.

The following words appear on the black screen: “In Chile an accidental abortion is the only kind of abortion that is not considered a crime.”

In the style of the modern YouTube tutorial, the campaign demonstrates a practice that women have been forced into for centuries: inducing miscarriage by risking their own life. This type of knowledge sharing has traditionally happened in the dark, behind closed doors, and bringing it out into the light shows us just how scary it is.

Chile has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, but abortion is illegal throughout most of Latin America. In some countries, like Mexico and El Salvador, women are actively criminalized for the procedure; in others, political dogma around abortion is so cemented that exceptions are never made, even for a 10-year-old rape victim or a woman who was dying due to her pregnancy. This doesn’t mean that women in the Americas are not getting abortions. In many areas, relatively good quality abortion care is available at a very high cost and with risks. Women who don’t live near big cities or who cannot afford safer procedures will resort to strategies like those shown in the video, then seek medical care when the miscarriage has already begun.

Activists throughout the continent have been working tirelessly and are making headway in changing these sexist and backward laws. Earlier this year, Chilean President Bachelet introduced a bill that would legalize abortions in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the woman’s life, and polls show that there is widespread support for the legislation. Campaigns like this just might be making the difference in getting us to a world where women’s lives matter more than politics.

I wrote this last week and I’ll say it again: the criminalization of abortion does nothing to help children and hurts women. The only thing it protects is power and misogyny.

Watch the other videos in the campaign here and here.

Header image credit.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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