Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, said he will be proposing placing tighter time limits for abortion in cases of rape after the new law on this issue was approved by the country’s National Assembly on 17 February 2022 with 75 votes in favour, 41 against and 14 abstentions.
The new law is based on a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court in April 2021. That ruling, which was supported by seven of the Court’s nine judges, was that abortion would be decriminalised when the pregnancy was due to rape up to 12 weeks’ gestation, and up to 18 weeks for adolescents and for adult women belonging to indigenous groups or who live in rural areas. Affected women are not required to report the rape, but must sign a consent form. Physicians may object to providing the abortion on grounds of conscience.
At the time of the Constitutional Court’s ruling, around the time Lasso was elected, he had expressed his “total respect” for the decision of the Court, despite maintaining a “contrary personal opinion”.
The bill that was voted on in February 2022 originally called for a 28-week upper limit for those who had been raped and became pregnant, and no upper time limit for adolescents. The original bill was modified four times during the debate. When the law was passed, national press outlets highlighted the disagreement of legal abortion advocates, who said the 12-week time limit was too restrictive and would force women to continue seeking illegal abortions, which are often fatal. Outside the legislative chamber, Sarahi Maldonado, from the feminist collective Las Comadres, said that “the Assembly has once again failed girls, women, survivors and victims of sexual violence. They put up more barriers for girls to be forced to give birth and seek illegal abortions.”
Lasso’s respect of a year ago was also short-lived, it seems. He has now proposed to the National Assembly to reform the law they just passed, which they have 30 days to vote on. His reform would limit access to abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation for all adult women, regardless of where they live or what community they belong to. Lasso’s justification: “We are all equal before our constitution and our laws,” he posted on Twitter. “Establishing legal differences between citizens based on places of birth or origins would go against this basic principle.” Adolescents are not mentioned.
This is of course the opposite of granting equal rights in a situation where equal access does not exist. Instead, clearly, he wants to reduce the rights of all women while claiming that he seeks to achieve greater equality between them. Whether the 18 weeks would still stand in the case of adolescents is apparently unclear.
SOURCES: France24.com, by France24, 18 February 2022 + PHOTO by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP; US News & World Report, by Alexandra Valencia & Oliver Griffin/Thomson Reuters, 15 March 2022 ; SEE ALSO: ICWRSA Newsletter, 30 April 2021 ; ICWRSA Newsletter, 8 September 2021