Court refuses to rule on abortion case

Nov 29, 2019 | 16 comments

The Constitutional Court has refused to rule on the decriminalization of abortion in the case of rape. Brought by women’s rights organizations and encouraged by President Lenin Moreno, the case followed the National Assembly’s failure to change the existing law that makes all abortions illegal.

Leaders of several women’s organizations react to the Constitutional Court’s decision not to rule on the abortion case. (El Comercio)

In a statement, the court said it “lacked the capacity” to overrule the action of the Assembly but acknowledged that leaving the abortion law unchanged could violate the constitution. “There may be technical errors in the Assembly’s actions but, at this point, this body cannot rule on the issue.”

The abortion language was included in the October revision of the criminal code that was vetoed by Moreno along with two other provisions of the law. At the time, Moreno said that leaving the abortion language unchanged could be a constitutional violation of a woman’s right to make decisions about her welfare.

In submitting the case, women’s rights groups had argued that the UN and several human rights organizations had criticized Ecuador and other Latin American countries for being slow to adopt changes to abortion laws that restrict the practice in cases of rape and incest.

Spokeswoman for the Women’s Challenge Foundation, Virginia Gomez de la Torre, said she was disappointed at the court’s decision but insisted the fight will continue. “It appears the abortion issue has become a ping pong ball between the Assembly and the president, which is terribly unfortunate for the women of Ecuador. We plan to file a new action based on the constitutionality of the law, unrelated to the action of the Assembly.”


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