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News > Ecuador

Ecuadorian President Lasso Partially Vetoes Abortion Law

  • The banner reads:

    The banner reads: "Rich women abort, poor women die," Quito, Ecuador, Feb. 17, 2022. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 March 2022

He suggested unifying the twelve-week deadline in cases of abortion due to rape and did not accept a longer-term for Indigenous and rural women's access to termination of pregnancy.

On Tuesday, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso partially vetoed the law regulating abortion for rape cases by alleging that its text does not agree with the 2021 ruling of the Constitutional Court that decriminalized the termination of pregnancy for such cases.

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The law passed by Congress allows victims of rape to abort up to the 12th week of pregnancy. In the case of Indigenous women, rural women, and minors, the right to legal abortion was granted up to the 18th week of pregnancy. The longer-term for Indigenous and rural women was intended to give them more time to find medical assistance because access to health care is unequal between urban and rural areas and social statuses.

Nevertheless, Lasso suggested unifying the twelve-week deadline in cases of abortion due to rape and did not accept the longer-term for Indigenous and rural women. "I firmly believe that our laws should not be a factor of division, but one of encounter of all Ecuadorians in their vast diversity and plurality," he said.

Besides proposing "requirements" for access to rape abortion —including filing a complaint, an affidavit, or medical examination attesting to the sexual assault—, Lasso suggested respecting any conscientious objections that medical staff may submit to deal with such cases.

"The President’s proposals create insurmountable barriers for rape survivors. They are in no way in line with the Constitutional Court’s decision, which demanded that the abortion law adhere to the highest international human rights standards," activist Veronica Vera argued.

A report presented by the World Vision, Plan International, and the World Food Program (WFP) organizations in October 2021 recognized that Ecuador has the third-highest adolescent pregnancy rate in Latin America and that 80 percent of cases of child pregnancies in this country result from sexual abuse.

After Lasso's decision, the National Assembly will have a 30-day term to decide whether to keep the text in its original form or include the his proposals in it. If the deadline is exceeded, the presidential text will be immediately approved. "As a Catholic man, I will continue to live by my beliefs. However, as the Ecuadorian President, I will do my best to uphold the principles of a fully republican and democratic system," Lasso alleged.

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