Ecuadorian lawmakers have approved regulations allowing women and girls access to abortion in cases of rape, following a Constitutional Court ruling that decriminalized such abortions.
Previously, Ecuador only allowed abortions when a woman’s life was endangered by the pregnancy.
Passed by 75 to 41 votes, with 14 lawmakers abstaining, the new measure allows abortions up to 12 weeks gestation for adult women in urban areas and up to 16 weeks for minors and adults in rural areas. rural areas.
The vote comes after the Constitutional Court gave the green light to abortion in cases of rape last April and ordered lawmakers to quickly regulate the procedure.
Although the National Assembly passed the regulation with 75 votes in favor, 41 against and 14 abstentions, the rules may still be blocked by conservative President Guillermo Lasso before becoming law.
Lasso said he does not personally support abortion but would allow lawmakers to regulate the procedure as long as they do not exceed court stipulations.
Women over 18 will be able to abort pregnancies resulting from rape up to 12 weeks gestation, while adolescents and girls under 18 will have up to 18 weeks gestation.
Adult women from indigenous groups or who live in rural areas will also have up to 18 weeks of pregnancy to have an abortion.
According to the rules, women will not be required to have reported their rape to the police, but will have to complete an informed consent form. Although the health care system must provide the procedure, individual physicians may conscientiously object to it.
Abortion rights campaigners said the deadlines were too restrictive and would force women to continue seeking illegal, sometimes fatal, abortions.
“The assembly has once again failed girls, women, survivors and victims of sexual violence,” Sarahi Maldonado of feminist collective Las Comadres told Reuters outside the assembly. “They are putting up more barriers so that girls are forced to give birth and have illegal abortions.”
Abortion has been legal in Ecuador since 1938 in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or when a rape victim has an intellectual disability. In 2019, the assembly failed to pass a law legalizing abortion for rape.
More than 21,000 abortions take place each year in Ecuador, according to feminist group Trenzando Feminismos, most of them in dangerous illegal clinics.
“Life is not negotiable,” said Paul Garcia, who was protesting outside the legislature with anti-abortion groups. “They want to murder another victim in the mother’s womb.”
Abortion is freely available in Argentina and Uruguay under certain time limits and several other Latin American countries have legalized it in cases of rape.
Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion last year and Colombia’s Constitutional Court is weighing the same decision.
In Chile – where abortion is permitted for rape and other limited cases – President-elect Gabriel Boric has pledged to make it freely available.