Debate begins on decriminalizing abortion in Ecuador

Debate begins on decriminalizing abortion in Ecuador

Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.
Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.

.- The Ecuadorian legislature began debate on decriminalizing abortion last week, amid opposition from the Church and various civil organizations.

The decriminalization of abortion is part of the reform of the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code. The proposal would liberalize this procedure in cases of rape, non-viable fetal deformity, rape, and incest.

The Ecuadorian bishops' conference stated in a Jan. 3 communiqué that “human life is above any political and religious banner or positions erroneously called conservative or progressive.”

“We invite all men and women of good will, families and, in a special way, the members of the assembly, to exposit with clarity and courage their scientific, ethical and legal arguments, free of any fundamentalist position, whether it be of a social, political or religious character,” the bishops encouraged.

The Ecuadorian bishops' conference also stated that “we have prepared a document with the counsel of renowned professionals in the fields of medicine, ethics, and law, referring in a particular way to the rights of unborn children.”

Cristina Franco, of Guayaquil Pro-Life Lawyers, told ACI Prensa that the proposal to decriminalize abortion in the case of rape was made by Ernesto Pazmiño Granizo, the former People's Ombudsman, in 2016, and other proposals were later added to it.

Finally, the proposal was incorporated into the reform of  the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code, and it received the approval of the National Assembly's Justice and the Structure of the State Commission in December 2018, a necessary previous step for it to be debated in the Plenary Assembly.
 
“The Constitution of Ecuador requires a bill to be submitted to two debates prior to the sanction or objection of the Executive Branch. The first debate began January 3, and out of that, the Commission will issue a second report prior to the second and final debate,” Franco said.

An additional session would have to be held the coming week as part of the first debate, before the bill will be returned to the Justice and Structure of the State Commission.

“This report would have to make note of the bill's rejection or acceptance by the legislators, as well as proposals presented by the representatives of the different civil organizations.”

Cristina Valverde, a lawyer,  told ACI Prensa that “currently, the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code does not penalize abortion if the life of the woman is in danger or if the pregnancy was the consequence of the rape of a woman with a mental disability.”

Valverde said that pro-life groups were eventually able to enter the Plenary Assembly Jan. 3 to "tell the members of the assembly that the majority of Ecuadorians want sexual violence to be eradicated and for life to be respected from conception.”

She said the proposal to decriminalize abortion will eventually go back to the Justice Commission, “where we hope they completely eliminate this article and that life will be respected from conception just as the Constitution of Ecuador guarantees in Article 45.”

Article 45 ensures that “girls, boys and adolescents shall enjoy the rights common to human beings, in addition to those specific to their age. The State shall recognize and guarantee life including its care and protection from conception.”

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.