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Chile court suspends day-after pill to minors

Written by: Staff
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SANTIAGO, Sep 14 (Reuters) A Chilean court has temporarily suspended the Health Ministry's move to provide emergency contraceptive pills to minors without parental consent, but the government said it will appeal the decision.

Chile, where abortion is illegal under any circumstance, announced a measure earlier this month to make the ''morning-after pill'' available in the public health system for free to females from the age of 14 without the permission of their parents.

In a split decision the appellate court temporarily blocked the move until a suit filed by a mayor and a group of lawyers against Health Minister Maria Soledad Barria is resolved.

''We are not against distribution of the pill, but we are against its distribution without the knowledge of the parents.

Parents have to at least be taken into consideration,'' said Juan Antonio Espina, one of the lawyers involved.

The initiative has polarized opinions in Chile, and has been strongly supported by President Michelle Bachelet and opposed by the Catholic church.

The government has said the measure is intended to extend health care access to less wealthy sectors and that it would appeal the decision.

''We think its correct that we defend this policy, that it become reality,'' government spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said.

REUTERS VJ RN0443

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