The National Assembly voted Tuesday to send President Guillermo Lasso’s revisions to the new abortion law to the Constitutional Court to determine their legality. The law was passed in March following a 2021 ruling by the court that Ecuador’s current law, which prohibits abortion in cases of rape, is unconstitutional.
Lasso made 61 changes to the Assembly legislation, which abortion rights supporters claim make it more difficult for rape victims to access abortion services. Lasso, who says he opposes all abortions due to his religious beliefs, said he respects the court decision but wants the ruling “narrowly interpreted.”
Among the president’s changes the Assembly is asking the court to review is his demand that abortion in rape cases not be considered a right. “This is an exception to the law due to a crime, it is not a human right,” Lasso wrote in his partial veto report.
Other presidential objections include shortening the time period in which abortions are allowed from 18 to 12 week for indigenous and rural women who, supporters of the original legislation say, lack easy access to health care and legal counsel.
The Assembly voted 75 to 49, with 11 abstentions, to ask for the court review.
Cuenca Assemblywoman Sofía Sánchez says that Lasso’s changes go against the court’s original ruling. “These are not minor changes but changes that disrespect the court and, more important, disrespect the rights of women who have suffered violent attacks,” she said. “Most of us in the Assembly consider it a total, not a partial veto of the law we passed.”
She added: “I respect the president’s personal beliefs but they have no place under the law.”
By asking the court to review Lasso’s changes, the 30-day term under which the Assembly must respond is suspended, according to the Assembly’s Justice Commission.