Ecuadorian court approves decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape

The flag of Ecuador. Credit: Millenius/Shutterstock. The flag of Ecuador. Credit: Millenius/Shutterstock.

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador ruled Wednesday to approve the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape.

The 7-2 decision was made April 28. It regarded a suit brought in 2019 by several pro-abortion rights groups.

Existing law allowed legal abortion in Ecuador only in cases of the rape of a woman with mental disabilities, or when the mother’s life is determined to be at risk.

The Ecuadorian constitution states that “girls, boys and adolescents shall enjoy the rights common to human beings, in addition to those specific to their age. The state shall recognize and guarantee life including its care and protection from conception.”

Ecuador’s bishops had on April 27 written to the Constitutional Court arguing that the “crime of rape” is not solved “with another crime: abortion”.

“The rapist must be treated with the maximum rigor of the law, especially if he is someone close to the victim, such as a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance. Otherwise, impunity for the aggressor would be favored. Furthermore, there is not a single woman in prison for abortion; much less if she were a teenager, who has another juridical process,” they reflected.

The bishops also recalled that the decriminalization of abortion for rape has already been "debated and rejected several times in recent months by the National Assembly and vetoed by the Executive."

"Therefore, an eventual decision of the Constitutional Court in this line would completely ignore the deep debate and concern that this issue raised in the Assembly," they said.

In September the Ecuadorian president vetoed a Health Code bill that would have opened the door to abortion, surrogate motherhood, and teaching gender ideology to minors.

And in September 2019, a bill to decriminalize abortion in all cases of rape failed in the Ecuadorian legislature. That bill would have allowed abortion also in cases of non-viable fetal deformity, incest, and nonconsensual artificial insemination.

A similar effort had failed in 2013.

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