The government of Chile has provided hundreds of thousands of defective birth control pills to women that resulted in at least 140 unplanned pregnancies.

The birth control pill packs, which went by the name of Anulette CD, were packaged incorrectly, with the sugar pills or placebo, in the place of the active pills. 

The issue of defective birth control pills has stirred up interest from reproductive health advocates in Chile, prompting them to do some investigation, according to a We are Mitu report.

Corporacion Miles, a reproductive rights organization, requested a formal inquiry into the matter that led to the recall of 276,890 packets of birth control pills last August. 

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Women's Stories on Defective Birth Control Pills

Melanie Riffo was one of the many women taking the defective birth control pills without fail, saying that she and her boyfriend were careful as they don't feel ready to have a child. Doctors even told her boyfriend that a childhood ailment could have made him infertile.

"I don't have a career, I don't have anything stable, I don't have a home where he can be safe," Riffo said in a report.

Riffo is working as a cashier in a sushi restaurant in Chillán and had heard nothing about the defective pills. She lives with her mother, who has cancer, and has been with her partner for six months.

Marlisett Guisel Rain Rain was also among the women who took the defective pills. She learned that she was pregnant in a challenging time as she was breaking up with her husband and starting her third year in college, according to The One World News report.

Rain Rain said it was hard to come to terms with the said pregnancy as she was still studying and did not have a stable place to live.

"We've never seen such a systemic failure, that lasted as long as the case in Chile, with such severe consequences," Paula ávila-Guillén, the executive director of Women's Equality Center, said in a The New York Times reportThe said center is one of the reproductive rights organizations that monitor reproductive rights in Latin America.

Aside from unplanned pregnancies, the issue on defective birth control pills in Chile has also opened a debate on women's reproductive rights and access to abortion. Reports said the Corporacion Miles would take legal action on behalf of women who unintendedly became pregnant while taking the defective birth control pills.

This April, a Constitutional Convention election is set to be held in Chile to select members of an assembly that would draft a new constitution. In November, Chileans will vote in a new Congress and a president, replacing Sebastián Piñera, who is known to be a conservative.

Claudia Mix, an opposition lawmaker, said the Chilean state is primarily responsible for distributing the faulty birth control pills, adding that the government cannot wash its hands on this.

Abortion Stance in Chile

Female lawmakers in Chile introduced a bill to decriminalize the procedure after fellow Latin American country Argentina legalized abortion in January.

In a 2018 Guttmacher Institute's fact sheet on abortion in the Latin American region and the Caribbean, it found that more than 97 percent of women of reproductive age in Latin America and the Caribbean live with restrictive abortion laws. Also, around 760,000 women in the region are treated per year for complications from unsafe abortion. 

In 2014, at least 10 percent of all maternal deaths from the region were because of unsafe abortions. Unplanned pregnancies are especially challenging in Chile and other Latin American countries because they have very restrictive abortion laws.

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