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Forty years after a brutal dictatorship, Chile remains firmly conservative in social matters. It legalized divorce in 2004, becoming one of the last nations in the world to grant married couples that right.
"Chile is a country that has modernized when it comes to its economy, but when it comes to its social and political culture, it has become stagnant and this is seen with the abortion issue," said Marta Lagos, head of the Santiago-based pollster Mori.
"It's a country that is adverse to change, that panics with any change, which is seen as a threat," Lagos said. "The weight of Catholicism is still a major issue and we also have a millenary indigenous culture that always lived alienated from the rest of world. We're part of that millenary culture of isolation."
The Roman Catholic Church retains a strong influence over society, although it has lost credibility since 2010, when four men alleged that they were abused by one of Chile's most revered priests when they were between 14 and 17 years old.
Pinera announced measures last year to combat child abuse, responding to a popular outcry over a spike in reports of these crimes. He toughened penalties on convicted pedophiles, increased the forensic institute's budget and created a children's ombudsman to protect their rights.
His center-right government also banned convicted pedophiles from working near children under a law that also requires those convicted of sexually abusing minors to be registered in a database. Reports of sexual abuse of children under the age of 14 rose by 22 percent in the first half of 2012.
But change comes slowly in Chile. An anti-discrimination law was stuck in Congress for seven years and only passed in 2012 after the killing of a gay man who was beaten by attackers who carved swastikas into his body.
"The Chilean elite is very conservative and this has had an influence in Congress," said Patricio Navia, a Chilean political scientist who teaches at New York University. "Laws, therefore, change at a much slower pace than the rest of Chilean society. Because society is much less conservative than it was 15 or 20 years ago."
Former president Michelle Bachelet, the frontrunner in the Nov. 17 presidential elections, favors legalizing abortion in cases of rape or risks to the health of the mother or the child. She spent the past several years heading the U.N. agency for women.
Her opponent, former Economy Minister Pablo Longueira, was close to Pinochet. He opposes abortion and the so-called day-after pill.
Daniel Alvarado, a prosecutor for the public ministry, told state TV that the case of the pregnant 11-year-old would be treated as a rape in any circumstance because at that age a person "doesn't have maturity to consent to a sexual relationship within law."
"It's not possible for any person at that age to have the capacity to understand the consequences on an act of that nature," Alvarado added.
In Latin America, only Cuba, Uruguay and some local governments make early abortions accessible to all women.
Uruguay recently passed a law authorizing elective abortions in the first three months of pregnancy in the most liberal law of its kind in Latin America. Passage of the law was widely seen as a landmark for a region in which many countries outlaw abortion in all circumstances.
Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao