ECUADOR – Constitutional Court approves abortion for rape in historic ruling

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador decriminalised abortion in cases of rape on 28 April 2021, in an historic ruling in response to a petition from seven women’s, feminist and human rights groups. This was soon after the election of Guillermo Lasso as president, who is anti-abortion and from the centre-right. He gave assurances that he will respect the Court’s decision, however. “The independence of the government branches and the secular nature of the state are principles that cannot be negotiated,” he said in a statement.

Ombudsman Freddy Carrion announced the Court’s decision on Twitter, and said the ruling “was possible thanks to the women and feminist groups who have consistently battled for a more fair and egalitarian society”. “From today, no raped woman will be criminalised,” he said.

Every day six girls have an abortion in Ecuador, according to figures from the Ombudsman’s office. Among those under the age of 14, 80% of the pregnancies are due to sexual violence. Some 2,500 girls under the age of 14 give birth each year in Ecuador after being raped, according to local feminist groups.

The resolution was approved by the Plenary of the Court with seven votes in favour and reservations by two magistrates, in an opinion that declared two clauses of the Comprehensive Penal Code (COIP) unconstitutional and opened up the possibility of abortion in those cases.

Abortion was previously allowed only when the woman’s life or health is at risk or if the pregnancy is the result of the rape of a woman with a mental disability. In 2019, the National Assembly had voted against decriminalising abortion in other cases of rape or fetal malformation.

SOURCES: Agencia EFE, 29 April 2021 + PHOTO by Andrés Ávila/EFE ; France24, by AFP, 29 April 2021 ; 660 City News, by Associated Press, 28 April 2021