Social Issues

Ecuador congress backs limited right to abortion in case of rape

Quito, Feb 17 (EFE).- Ecuador’s National Assembly voted Thursday to allow abortion when a pregnancy is the result of rape, but with restrictions opposed by feminists.

After the original text failed to garner the 70 votes needed to pass, the draft was modified to permit abortion up to the 12th week for most adult women, with an extension to the 18th week for minors and women in rural areas.

President Guillermo Lasso, a political conservative and member of the predominantly lay Catholic organization Opus Dei, has 30 days to either sign the measure into law or veto it.

Lawmakers acted on an April 2021 ruling from Ecuadorian Constitutional Court mandating decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape.

Lasso, who has held that life begins at conception, vowed to respect the court decision.

“Today the congress made a majority decision after a wide, participative, lay and democratic debate about a bill of great importance for the present and future of the girls, adolescents and women of this country,” Assembly speaker Guadalupe Llori said after the legislation passed.

Activists on both sides of the abortion issue gathered outside the capitol early Thursday ahead of the vote.

Some of the abortion-rights protesters sat partially undressed holding up signs describing the plight of women forced to bear children resulting from rape.

“Kelly should be playing with her friends, but she is taking care of her rapist’s son,” read one message. “Paty is 11 years old and needs an emergency caesarian after a pregnancy caused by rape. The doctors say her body is very small and she could die.”

Abortion opponents, meanwhile, insisted that termination should never be permitted.

“Whatever the circumstance of conception, it is a life!,” was the sentiment displayed on a poster carried by members of a group identifying themselves as pro-life residents of Quito.

Feminist campaigner Veronica Vera told Efe before the vote in congress that the National Assembly had already failed women.

Going forward, she said, activists will fill suits in “international and domestic courts for every death of a raped girl or woman, for every woman and girl forced into maternity.” EFE fgg-sm/dr

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