The National Assembly’s Justice Commission has approved the draft of the Organic Law to Guarantee the Right to Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, sending it to the full Assembly for debate and a vote. The legislation would allow abortion in cases of rape and when a woman’s life is at risk.
The legislation is the response to an April 28 ruling by the Constitutional Court that the current law prohibiting all abortions is unconstitutional. Under current rules, Ecuadorian women face up to two years in prison for having an abortion, while medical professionals who performed the procedure could be jailed for as many as three years.
The justice commission advanced the bill by an 8 to 2 vote, acknowledging the court deadline of December 28 for enactment of a new law.
Efforts to liberalize Ecuador’s abortion law date back to 2000 when the first effort failed to pass the Assembly. In recent years, women’s rights advocates accused former presidents Rafael Correa and Lenin Moreno of being “puppets of the Catholic church” for refusing to support legislation to allow abortions.
Ana Cristina Vera, lawyer for several women’s organizations, says the proposed legislation does not go far enough but says it is a good start. “Eventually, we would like to see the law reflect those enacted in Uruguay and Argentina, which offer more discretion to women to make decisions about abortion. Until then, we celebrate the first step, understanding its importance in the struggle to stop violence against women.”
Under provisions of the proposed law, a pregnant woman who has suffered rape or who has complicating health conditions can request an abortion and have the procedure carried out within six days.