Ecuador’s current abortion laws have been in place since 1938.
Dozens protested in front of the the Ecuadorean National Assembly Thursday as lawmakers were voting on a bill defining abortion rights in the socially-conservative country.
Lawmakers discussed the text twice in plenary session during the day because of a lack of consensus on the final version and on whether to vote by article, chapter or book.
The most controversial part of the Health Code bill consisted in making abortion as an obstetric emergency regardless of the type or cause — for instance if the mother's life is in danger.
As a result, lawmakers refused to grant abortion rights in the case of emergency.
In January, Ecuador’s National Assembly began to debate whether or not to decriminalize abortions in cases of rape or incest as well as when the fetus has “serious malformation.”
If passed, Ecuador will join other Latin American countries that already allow abortion for cases of rape, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Mexico.
According to Art. 150 of the country’s criminal code (COIP), women can only terminate their pregnancy if their life is in danger or if they have a ‘mental disability’ and were raped.
Two hundred fifty women have been imprisoned in the country for seeking abortions; all were poor and under 20 years old, according to a report by the National Coalition of Women of Ecuador,
Ecuador’s current abortion laws have been in place since 1938. The last time the country debated whether or not to legalize abortion in cases of rape was 2013, when the assembly voted against it.
Between 2008 and 2018, over 20,000 girls under 14 have given birth, according to statistics from the attorney general’s office.