High court decision expands some abortion rights; Guayaquil maintains face mask rule; Five cabinet members resign, Lasso names replacements

Jul 6, 2022 | 21 comments

The Constitutional Court has ordered revisions to Ecuador’s new abortion law, saying it does not respect the rights of young women. Based on a suit brought by mothers of underage girls, the court ruled that girls under the age of 18 do not need the permission of legal representatives to obtain an abortion in the case of rape.

Women’s groups celebrated the decision of the Constitutional Court on Monday, rejecting provisions of Ecuador’s new abortion law.

The court also overturned two other provisions of the law passed by the National Assembly in March, saying they violate the rights of women. Some of the requirements the court objected to were inserted by President Guillermo Lasso in his partial veto of the law.

The court said the law’s requirement that “third parties” make decisions for young women was unconstitutional and would mean that some women could be denied the “right to consent” to have an abortion.

Guayaquil extends Covid face mask rule
The Guayaquil Emergency Operations Committee voted to maintain the city’s Covid-19 face mask requirement due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the city. The COE rejected a city council proposal to eliminate the rule, agreeing with Mayor Cynthia Viteri who insists it should remain in effect.

Carlos Farhat, epidemiologist and health advisor to the city, say there has been a “substantial” increase of confirmed Covid-19 cases and positive tests in recent weeks. “Now is not yet the time to relax pandemic rules, including masking,” he said. “Masking reduces the spread of the Covid virus and should be continued until conditions improve.”

Private practice physician and epidemiologist Carlos Matis, advised the COE against continued masking. “While it is certainly true that people vulnerable to the virus, such as the elderly and those with health conditions, should continue with precautions, the situation does not warrant the masking requirement,” he said. “Hospitalizations and deaths are at low levels and are trending down. I think these are the factors that should be considered in imposing any health requirement. Covid-19 is becoming increasingly less dangerous to most people and currently poses no more risk than the common cold.”

Matis noted that those refusing to comply with the mask requirement cannot be sanctioned by the city due to a national rule that masking is voluntary.

Five government ministers resign, Lasso announces replacements
President Guillermo Lasso accepted the resignations of five cabinet ministers Tuesday and announced replacements for three of them. Those resigning were Finance Minister Simón Cueva, Health Minister Ximena Garzón, Transportation Minister Marcelo Cabrera, Minister of Urban Development and Housing Darío Herrera, and Minister of Higher Education and Technogloy Alejandro Ribadeneira.

Among those resigning, only Cabrera, a former Cuenca mayor, provided an explanation, saying the Transportation Ministry lacks the funding to complete the highway and infrastructure projects it is currently working on.

In an afternoon ceremony, Lasso introduced the replacement ministers.

Pablo Arosemena, Guayas Province Governor, replaces Cueva at the Finance Ministry. The 42-year-old, holds a master’s degree in political science and a Ph.D. in economics.

Darío Herrera, a businessman from Manta, is the new Minister of Transportation and Public Works. At 53, he has managed major infrastructure projects in Ecuador, the United States and Belize.

María Gabriela Aguilera replaces Herrera at the Ministry of Urban Development. Currently vice minister of the ministry, she is is an architect trained at the Pontifical Catholic University and former manager of Base Arquitectura in Guayaquil.

Lasso’s press office said the other new ministers would be introduced later this week.

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