UN committee asks Ecuador to change abortion policy in cases of rape

Mar 7, 2015

A United Nations committee for women’s rights is urging Ecuador to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) says that the country’s policy is out of step with those of other countries and is a form of discrimination against women.

Ecuador’s penal code, adopted in 2012, allows abortions in cases where a woman’s life is in danger due to pregnancy complications, but not in cases of pregnancy by rape.

In a report released earlier this week, CEDAW also recommended that Ecuador establish uniform clinical guidelines for abortions to protect the lives of women. “Because of the current government policy, too many women are being injured in improper abortion procedures carried out by poorly trained medical personnel,” the report said. “This is a serious health issue,” it added.

The CEDAW report also urged Ecuador to give high priority of the large number of pregnancies among adolescents, reported to be the the highest rate per capta in South America. The county should “ensure access to inexpensive, modern methods of contraception for all girls and women.”

The report added that Ecuador should do more to combat violence against women, including the establishment of more battered women’s shelters.

President Rafael Correa, a devout Catholic, has so far refused to change his opinion on issue of abortion in rape cases. In the past, he has threatened to punish members of his political party in the National Assembly who advocate a change in the law.