(WOMENSENEWS)–Chile’s Supreme Court has banned emergency contraception in the Roman Catholic country, arguing that it actually is a form of abortion.

Abortions are illegal in Chile even if necessary to save a mother’s life or in cases of rape and incest.

The country’s highest court recently accepted the argument that pregnancy begins at the moment of fertilization, the union of egg and sperm–contrary to overwhelming medical evidence that it actually begins when the already fertilized egg is implanted in the wall of the uterus.

Anti-abortion groups assert that life begins at the moment when a sperm and egg unite.

Extension of the court’s argument would mean that birth control pills and intra-uterine devices, or IUDs, are also forms of abortion and hence, illegal, because they prevent pregnancy, understood to mean the uterine implantation of a fertilized egg, argued Alex Sanger, chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region.

In a commentary posted on the organization’s Web site this week, Sanger wrote that Chile is a “sometimes-modern, sometimes-medieval nation” and the only country that bans both divorce and abortion without exception.

Sanger argues that Chile’s no-exceptions abortion ban results in at least 400,000 illegal abortions each year in a nation of 15 million residents. That rate is six times greater than that of the United States–1.2 million legal abortions in a nation of 275 million residents.

For more information, read Alex Sanger’s commentary on the Web site of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region:
http://www.ippfwhr.org/news/sanger/sangerfile4_spn.html (in Spanish)