Ecuador’s National Assembly begins debate today on significant changes and additions to the country’s health laws. Many of the provisions of the proposed legislation are controversial, legislators say, and have not been discussed in the past.
Included in the legislation are expansion of rules for assisted human reproduction, storage of human sperm and eggs, surrogate births, stem cell use for medical care and research, genetic engineering, organ transplantation, and implementation of a living will option.
Proposals also include measures to incorporate alternative treatments and medications and ancestral medicine into traditional medical care, and to require licenses for some alternative health care practitioners.
Debate on the bill, called the Organic Health Code, began in March but was delayed by request of then-presidential candidate Lenin Moreno, who wanted to the new government involved in its formulation.
According to Moreno, some of the law’s proposals have a major impact on some elements of the population, including women’s and gay rights groups and the Catholic church. “We need time for the public to become educated about this. It requires a full public airing,” he said.
The legislation also includes provisions to apply penalties to health care providers who do not follow rules applied in the law.