Abortion in Chile

In 2017, Chile legalized abortion in three scenarios: risk to the pregnant person's life, fetal malformation, and rape. However, due to its recent implementation, 70% of Chile's population is either unaware or only partially aware of the protocols for accessing abortion services [1]. This lack of knowledge contributes to a wide disparity between the Ministry of Health's projected number of legal abortions in Chile when the law was launched and the actual number of legal abortions [2].
In Chile, the Ministry of Health declared that 2,793 people underwent an abortion from 2018 to 2022. Most of those abortions were performed to save the life of the pregnant person, and almost half of the doctors say they are not willing to perform an abortion on the grounds of rape.

Five years after the Chilean law implemented the three-cause abortion law, the Ministry of Health declared that 2,793 people underwent an abortion from 2018 to 2022. Of those, 31% were for risk to the life of the pregnant person, 49% for fetal non-viability and 20% for rape [2]. According to the Chilean press in 2022, of the 1,269 doctors hired in hospitals, 599, that is 47%, are not willing to perform an abortion on the grounds of rape, showing how abortion stigma is still widely prevalent in the healthcare community [16]. It is important to note that in the special report of the Regional Alert System on Sexual and Reproductive Rights by the Articulación Feminista Marcosur, a total of seven alerts were reported from 2021 to 2022. One of these seven alerts was related to abortion. This alert means despite the right for abortion under  the three legal grounds it is still not guaranteed [17].

State of abortion law

Although Chile has three legal grounds for abortion, the right to decide freely, autonomously, and in an informed manner about the voluntary termination of pregnancy is still lacking. There is still a long way to go to guarantee sexual and reproductive justice in the country [18].

What does the law say in Chile?     

Abortion Rights

“Voluntary termination of pregnancy is decriminalized, by a medical surgeon, on the grounds set forth:  1) The woman is at vital risk, so the interruption of the pregnancy avoids danger to her life; 2) The embryo or fetus suffers from an acquired congenital or genetic pathology incompatible with independent extrauterine life, in any case of lethal character; 3) It results from rape, provided that no more than twelve weeks of gestation have elapsed. In the case of a girl under 14 years of age, the termination of pregnancy may be performed provided that no more than fourteen weeks of gestation have elapsed.” 


Since 2017, Law No. 21,030 has established that a person may terminate a pregnancy in three instances. All other cases are punishable by imprisonment; the three instances are [9]:

  • When the pregnant person’s life is at risk, 
  • When the fetus has a malformation, 
  • When the pregnancy results from sexual abuse, the law states that any pregnant person under the age of 14 is automatically considered a victim of sexual abuse [9].

Will of the person with gestational capacity

  • The person must give written consent to terminate the pregnancy [9].
  • Different means of communication are provided for persons with sensory, visual, and hearing disabilities, as well as persons with mental or intellectual disabilities so that they can give their consent [9].
  • If the person has been declared incompetent due to insanity, they must have the authorization of their legal representative [9].

Under 18 years of age

  • People between 14 and 18 years old who will terminate their pregnancy must inform one of their legal representatives [9].
  • Minors under fourteen must also inform the legal representative of their choice. Also, if your representative refuses or is not found, a member of health will assist the person in requesting the intervention of a judge to verify the cause of the termination of pregnancy. This request shouldn’t take more than 48 hours [9].

Information about the procedure

Health personnel should provide timely, truthful, and understandable information about the characteristics of the procedure. This information includes the health status of the person to be treated, the risks of the intervention, the different alternatives, and the value of the service. The information is not intended to influence the woman’s decision but only to ensure that the person knows the different alternatives [9].

Accompanying program

People have the right to an accompaniment program which must follow the following actions:

  • In case of deciding to continue with the pregnancy, it will deliver information on their health condition and activate support networks,
  • The person must authorize the accompaniment,
  • The Ministry of Health and Finance will regulate the service and establish criteria to ensure they offer non-profit support,
  • The person can freely choose the accompaniment entity,
  • The person can denounce the accompaniment offered if it doesn’t follow the law [9].

Conscientious objection

The physician may refuse to terminate a pregnancy and must inform the health facility’s director so that a replacement may be sought. However, suppose the person requires immediate medical attention because their life is at risk. In that case, the physician who made the conscientious objection must perform the termination of pregnancy if there is no other physician who can perform the intervention [9].

How many abortions are performed in Chile?

Data and numbers of abortions in Chile

For 28 years, Chile had very restrictive laws on abortion, but this did not prevent people from seeking abortions. As demonstrated in other contexts, legal restrictions do not eliminate the need for abortions. According to the last official estimation, there were approximately 160,000-200,000 abortions in Chile by 1990. Specialists predicted that this number would rise to 300,000 by 2015. However, there is not enough data to confirm those figures or to know more about the current scenario, since the Ministry of Health has not collected related information recently [4].

Scholars analyzed hospital discharge data of abortion-related cases between 2001 and 2010 and determined that 72% were unsafe abortions. An estimated 24,300 induced abortions took place each year during this period.[3]  

However, this method carries certain limitations, as the frequency of health complications from unsafe abortions that require hospitalization is decreasing. According to the Guttmacher Institute, cases of morbidity resulting from all pregnancies that were not carried to term decreased from 56,391 in 1964 to 30,434 in 2012, representing a decline in the morbidity rate from 32 to 8 hospitalizations per 1,000 Chilean women; this suggests that even with the legal restrictions, individuals are finding ways to access safe abortions [8].

Abortion rate in chile, number of abortions in chile

Since abortion regulations became more liberal in 2017, the lack of data surrounding the issue has remained unchanged. From 2018 to 2021, officially, 2,774 cases of abortion were reported. However, this information only considers legal abortions; the exact number of unsafe abortions is unknown, and no estimations are available. [1]

What do people in Chile believe? 

Opinion on abortion in Chile

In 2021, four years after Chile first set regulations for induced abortion, congressmen presented a new bill named “Ley del Aborto Legal,” which would classify all induced abortions up to 14 weeks of gestation as legal. However, Chilean perspectives on the proposed law were divided. According to a survey conducted by Plaza Pública Cadem, 52% of respondents disapproved of it, 46% approved it, and the remaining 2% had no opinion [11].

46% of people in Chile support abortion rights

An interesting profile of those who support the “Ley del Aborto Legal” law project is that they are typically young (18–34 years old), belong to a high socioeconomic level, and identify as left-wing supporters.

Who are the people who have requested abortions?       

Abortion seekers in Chile

Due to the long period in which Chile restricted abortion rights and avoided discussing unsafe abortions, reliable and up-to-date data profiling Chilean abortion seekers are sparse. This issue persists even after induced abortion became legal in some cases. 

However, data collected by the Ministry of Health from 2012-14 suggests that people aged 20 to 44 are most likely to have an abortion, with 107,048 hospital discharges during this period; this is followed by 15 to 19-year-olds, who experienced 10,410 cases, and 10 to 14-year-olds who had 469 patients [4].

 What abortion services are available in Chile?

Abortion Methods


Abortion with Pills

In Chile, only high-risk obstetric clinics have access to abortion pills, both public and private; public clinics already have the required medicines in stock. However, private clinics need patients to purchase them separately at up to 19 USD.

Which abortion pills are available in Chile?
  • Linepharma Mifeaprofa – 200mg

  • Linepharma Misoaprofa – 200mcg
  • Naari Pharma Miso-fem – 200mcg

In-clinic abortions

Manual Vacuum Aspiration

MVA can interrupt pregnancies in two cases: risk of life or fetus malformation. Both issues may take some time to diagnose, so the procedure must occur in a high-risk obstetric clinic to ensure patient safety.  Although this method is available in both public and private healthcare systems, the latter can cost up to U$72.

Dilatation & Curettage

According to the World Health Organization, D&C is an unsafe method of abortion, and numerous reproductive rights defenders in Chile are actively working to make this procedure unavailable throughout the country. Unfortunately, it remains a popular option for Chilean abortion seekers, particularly in the private health care system. Unfortunately, there is no information available about the cost of D&C. [12]

How does the context affect abortion in Chile?               

Context and abortion

Analysis of crucial indices in Chile shows disparities in areas such as the Global Gender Gap and the Human Rights Index. This data determines whether the population has the primary societal conditions required for a healthy and joyous life. Consequently, it provides much-needed insight into the socio-economic factors influencing people’s decisions regarding pregnancy. For example, in numerous instances, people may wish to continue their pregnancy but lack the support of their social system. Similarly, individuals may want to terminate their pregnancies, but their system prohibits them from doing so or prosecutes them. 

Knowledge toward abortion in Chile

Research conducted by “Observadoras Ley de Aborto” in 2018 revealed that 70% of Chileans lacked complete knowledge of the protocols required to obtain legal abortions in Chile [1]. A study by Lidia Casas corroborated the information and found that three years after the Chilean government passed the abortion resolution, adequate information regarding legal abortions had not been widely circulated across Chile [13].

The Ministry of Health did not facilitate consistent, accessible information. The only available resources on their website or in clinics were highly technical and challenging for the general public to understand. Furthermore, the mentioned study revealed that doctors often did not inform their patients of their eligibility for an abortion, mainly when these patients were migrants or from lower-income backgrounds [13]. 

When analyzing the projected number of legal abortions, it is evident that there is a lack of knowledge. When the government implemented the law, the Ministry of Health estimated that each year 2,550 people would undergo an abortion. However, from 2018 to 2021, only 2,774 abortions were reported, far fewer than the expected 10,200 [2]. This discrepancy could be attributed to an incorrect projection from the Ministry of Health. Still, it could also indicate that people are not accessing legal abortions due to a lack of information.

The children’s case

Chilean law, since 2017, recognizes that any pregnant person younger than 14 years old is a victim of rape and is entitled to perform a legal abortion. However, according to data from the National Statistics Institute, more girls under 14 are carrying their pregnancy to term rather than asserting their rights and getting an abortion. 

In 2019, 649 young girls entered prenatal programs across Chile, yet only 27 were allowed to legally claim rape and subsequently undergo an abortion [10]. This information may suggest that some minors are being coerced into motherhood.

How did the pandemic influence abortion in Chile?

Impact of COVID-19

Miles Corporation revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 out of 3 women did not have access to contraceptives [14]. In addition, data from the Ministry of Health shows that in the pandemic’s first year, there were 22% fewer legal abortion cases attended than in 2019 [15].

This situation highlights the dangerous fragility of reproductive rights in Chile, especially when only a few years ago, in 2017, the country finally gained limited abortion rights.

The country now faces a complex situation, with a restrictive abortion law, doctors being able to object to abortions based on their beliefs, and the government failing to provide accessible information about abortion. To address these issues, it needs to raise public awareness, end stigma, and recognize that having reproductive rights is essential for human rights.

What is the data gap in Chile?

What we don’t know

Data from the health system, local researchers, and NGOs have already provided insight into Chile’s stance on abortion. However, many questions remain unanswered if we want to develop a comprehensive understanding. Some of these questions include:

How many people are having abortions?
How many unsafe abortions occur?
How many people access abortion with pills?
How many queer and trans* people have had an abortion?
How many people have their life projects affected by restrictions and barriers to abortion?
How many forced abortions occur?
How many abortions were performed before, during and after the pandemic?

*This page presents abortion data only for women and girls since the information available is usually not separated by gender. However, AbortionData.org acknowledges this limitation.

 Where did we get the information?


[1] OLA (2018). Primer sondeo exploratorio nacional sobre el manejo de información y operatividad de la ley de aborto en sus 3 causales a trabajadoras del sistema de salud en Chile. Con las Amigas. https://conlasamigas.org/?page_id=27

[2] Cinco años después, la ley de aborto en 3 causales arrastra trabas en Chile. (2017). Humanas – Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género. https://www.humanas.cl/cinco-anos-despues-la-ley-de-aborto-en-3-causales-arrastra-trabas-en-chile/

[3] Eguiguren, P., Molina, R., Molina, T., & Carrasco, X. (2013). Profile of abortion in Chile, with extremely restrictive law. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. https://www.scirp.org/pdf/OJOG_2013122409440632.pdf

[4] Dides, C., & Fernández, C. (2018). Vista de Aborto en Chile: avances en derechos humanos. Revista de Bioética y Derecho Perspectivas Bioéticas. https://revistes.ub.edu/index.php/RBD/article/view/20421/23672

[5] Información para la ciudadanía. (2018). Ministerio de Salud – Gobierno de Chile. https://www.minsal.cl/informacion-para-la-ciudadania/

[6] Leyes. (2018). Observatorio de Igualdad de Género. https://oig.cepal.org/es/laws/2/country/chile-8

[7] Maira, G., Casas, L., & Vivaldi, L. (2019). Abortion in Chile: The Long Road to Legalization and its Slow Implementation. Health Hum Rights. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6927382/

[8] Prada, E. (2022). Induced Abortion in Chile. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/induced-abortion-chile

[9] C. (s. f.). ChileAtiende – Ley que regula la despenalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo. https://www.chileatiende.gob.cl/fichas/41507-ley-que-regula-la-despenalizacion-de-la-interrupcion-voluntaria-del-embarazo

[10] Saavedra, A. P. (2020). A 3 años de la ley de aborto en tres causales: las mujeres aún no podemos acceder a la interrupción del embarazo. El Mostrador. https://www.elmostrador.cl/braga/2020/09/23/a-3-anos-de-la-ley-de-aborto-en-tres-causales-las-mujeres-aun-no-podemos-acceder-a-la-interrupcion-del-embarazo/

[11] Villalobos, J. (2021). Cadem: 46% está a favor del aborto libre y apoyo más alto está en población joven. La Tribuna. https://www.latribuna.cl/noticias/2021/08/16/cadem-46-esta-a-favor-del-aborto-libre-y-apoyo-mas-alto-esta-en-poblacion-joven.html

[12] Abortion in Chile | All you need to know – safe2choose. (s. f.). https://safe2choose.org/abortion-information/countries/chile

[13] Casas, L., Vivaldi, L., Bozo, N., Álvarez, J. J., & Babul, J. (2022). Primary care and abortion legislation in Chile: A failed point of entry. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dewb.12377

[14] Salud sexual y reproductiva en pandemia: 1 de cada 3 mujeres no dispuso de anticonceptivos en cuarentena. (2020). Diario U Chile. https://radio.uchile.cl/2020/07/23/salud-sexual-y-reproductiva-en-pandemia-1-de-cada-3-mujeres-no-dispuso-de-anticonceptivos-en-cuarentena/

[15] Alcaraz, F. (2021, 20 diciembre). La pandemia sumó obstáculos al acceso al aborto voluntario en Chile. LatFem. https://latfem.org/la-pandemia-sumo-obstaculos-al-acceso-al-aborto-voluntario-en-chile/

[16] Canales, I. (2022, 19 marzo). Aborto: 47% de los obstetras de la red pública es objetor de conciencia en causal de violación. La Tercera. https://www.latercera.com/la-tercera-sabado/noticia/aborto-47-de-los-obstetras-de-la-red-publica-es-objetor-de-conciencia-en-causal-de-violacion/TEA2CJCA3ZHZZP23MIN7VYGUQE/

[17] González, A. C. (2022). Sistema de Alertas Regional Derechos sexuales y reproductivos El aborto en América Latina: una lucha agridulce. Articulación Feminista Marcosur. https://www.mujeresdelsur-afm.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/InformeSAR_vX06.pdf

[18] Martínez, C., Rosero, C., Trejos, C., & Vargas, P. M. (2022). Colombia: historic advancement in the decriminalization of abortion. Center for Reproductive Rights. https://reproductiverights.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Colombia-historic-advancement-in-the-decriminalization-of-abortion.-Regional-perspectives-OK-1.pdf


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